Innovation plan I4.0: route to a digitised chemical sector in Flanders



Industry 4.0 aims to be the answer to a technological revolution made possible by the digitisation of products, processes and services. People talk about the 'fourth industrial revolution' or simply 'industry 4.0 (i4.0)'. Industry 4.0 obviously offers interesting opportunities, but for many companies, this revolution is a challenging one. This is also the case for many companies in the target group, especially those in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector. In terms of company size, this target group is very diverse: although the chemical industry is mainly concentrated in a number of multinational giants, it also includes many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The interplay of large, medium-sized and small companies is one of the most important chemical assets in Flanders. Hence, the present project targets both size and small companies in the target group (but with a particular focus on SMEs), and aims to put more companies on the i4.0 path.


The concrete goal of the present study is to develop an initial collective innovation plan in the field of i4.0 for the Flemish sector of chemistry, plastics and life sciences. This innovation plan should outline further actions to accelerate the integration of i4.0 technology in the chemical sector. This project brings structure to the challenge and will provide an answer to the question of which collective pathways are needed for this, which are the priorities, which are the actors who can best implement these collective actions and which are the most appropriate instruments (e.g. earlier research or earlier demonstration, etc.).

By drawing up an innovation plan i4.0 in cooperation with actors along the entire value chain, collective business opportunities (= new value chains) - and the possible ways to achieve them - will be identified and realised. In other words, it will be possible to better identify all opportunities for growth in the chemical sector in Flanders by focusing on i4.0, so that an estimate can be made more quickly as to where the best return on investment lies and which innovation paths should be pursued.  The i4.0 innovation plan thus forms the testing and reference framework within which the feasibility, desirability and affordability of future innovation paths around i4.0 can be estimated, both for the Flemish Government and for the individual consortium members or research centres. In the long term, the objective is to have as many companies as possible integrate digital capabilities into their business processes, according to their own needs. This project will contribute to making companies aware that a transition is needed. It will also already identify the possible paths and provide companies with guidance on how to initiate the transition in their own company. The project should also enable companies to find the most suitable partners for this.


Project details

Project type
Innovation Programme
Proces Intensification and Transformation
Project status
Approved on
Project date
€124 994
€99 955