The UK partners of the Inno Industry Project held a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Workshop on 4th December for industry stakeholders to feedback on the preparedness of the Buckinghamshire economy for Industry 4.0. Seventeen individuals representing key local industries, as well as universities, research centres and local government, used the opportunity to discuss how business clusters can assist industries to prepare for the next industrial revolution; not only through funding opportunities, but shared best practice, collaboration and the ability to become a destination to attract the right skills.

In preparation for the workshop, Buckinghamshire Business First also conducted a survey of its members in order to get wider feedback on Industry 4.0 from a larger audience. The survey ran for three weeks and received 205 responses from over 200 organisations. When asked whether they thought that new and emerging technologies would assist and improve their business, 76% of respondents stated “yes”; however, when asked if their business was currently prepared to adopt these new technologies, only 41% stated “yes”. Therefore there is a clear difference between businesses’ eagerness to adapt and take advantages of changes within technology, and the current level of preparedness within the market. When asked what obstacles were standing in their way, respondents stated that the most problematic issues were the lack of cohesive funding for digital transformation, a lack of awareness of new technology and a lack of internal digital skills.

Stakeholders discussed the results of the survey in the workshop, and used these to develop best practices which are currently being shared with partners from across Europe. Once these have been collated, best practices from across the continent will be shared with businesses, and used to help shape how we approach the changing economy in Buckinghamshire, the United Kingdom, and across Europe.