The concept of the fourth industrial revolution was first introduced in Hannover earlier in this decade. This followed several decades of industrial automation, albeit at lower levels of functionality and complexity. Many developments have since shaped several industry 4.0 technologies that were previously under the purview of researchers. This is possible today, mainly due to innovations in technology, software, and hardware. Already, the increasing human-machine, machine-machine, and human-human connectivity influence production systems and processes across the world. Industry 4.0 trends and technologies are fundamental in achieving connected manufacturing geared towards smart and autonomous factories.
This article was published in June 2020 and updated in August 2023.
Innovation Map outlines Top 10 Industry 4.0 Trends & 20 Promising Startups
For this in-depth research on the Top Industry 4.0 Trends & Startups, we analyzed a sample of 770 global startups & scaleups. This data-driven research provides innovation intelligence that helps you improve strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies advancing Industry 4.0. In the Industry 4.0 Innovation Map, you get a comprehensive overview of the innovation trends & startups that impact your company.
Top 10 Industry 4.0 Trends in 2024
- Artificial Intelligence
- Human Augmentation & Extended Reality
- Edge, Fog & Cloud Computing
- Network & Connectivity
- Advanced Robotics
- Internet of Everything
- Big Data & Analytics
- Additive Manufacturing
- Cybersecurity, Transparency & Privacy
- Digital Twin
These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 3 790 000+ startups & scaleups globally. As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant technologies and industry trends quickly & exhaustively.
Tree Map reveals the Impact of the Top 10 Industry 4.0 Technology Trends in 2024
The Tree Map below illustrates the top 10 industry 4.0 future trends that will impact companies in 2024. Employing artificial intelligence (AI) techniques across devices and processes forms the top industry 4.0 trend. Increasingly, emerging companies develop wearable solutions for the industrial workplace to ensure the safety and efficiency of the manufacturing process.
Collecting data by implementing cloud and edge computing and designing cybersecurity solutions allow companies to establish the building blocks for setting up smart factories. Advanced robotic solutions comprising autonomous mobile robots, cobots, and swarm robotics, as well as robotic software development is also a major part of industry 4.0 trends.
Global Startup Heat Map covers 770 Industry 4.0 Startups & Scaleups
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 770 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals that the United States is home to most of these companies while we also observe increased activity in India as well as Europe, particularly in France and Germany.
Below, you get to meet 20 out of these 750+ promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These 20 startups were hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Interested to explore all 700+ Industry 4.0 startups & scaleups?
Top 10 Current Trends in Industry 4.0 (2024)
1. AI and Industry 4.0
AI and machine learning are driving innovations across industries and functional areas. AI-specific hardware and new algorithms are being developed to optimize the existing systems and tackle new challenges facing manufacturing. Factories are beginning to integrate AI across their production systems and processes.
Advanced AI makes it possible to conduct predictive maintenance, cognitive computing, swarm intelligence, context-aware computing, smart machines, hardware accelerators, and generative design. All of these technologies propel manufacturing facilities to move towards complete lights-out manufacturing.
ATG Artificial Intelligence Division – Smart Company 4.0
ATG Artificial Intelligence Division is an Italian startup that offers a solution for smart company 4.0. The startup’s solution features 3 modules – forecast, predictive maintenance, forecast, and classification of waste. The startup’s forecasting feature allows manufacturers to identify patterns and trends in industrial process data using machine learning.
The startup also utilizes AI and IoT to enable predictive maintenance of industrial assets. These modules allow manufacturers to predict unplanned energy consumption peaks and machine failures to minimize downtime and implement sustainable actions. Its waste classification solution further allows to prevent quality issues and identify defect topology.
Oqton – AI-Powered Data Integration
The US-based startup Oqton develops FactoryOS, an AI-powered platform for integrating manufacturing system data in order to streamline factory production and output. Machines, systems, and data from manufacturing facilities are usually kept as independent data silos, making it difficult to derive actual value from them.
The cloud-based platform integrates and uses data from all stages of the industrial ecosystem such as design, production, and supply chain. Over time, the AI learns continuously from these data inputs to generate critical insights for improving overall productivity.
2. Human Augmentation & Extended Reality
The physical and cognitive augmentation of humans forms another major industry 4.0 trend. The limitations in humans are being augmented with the help of technologies such as wearables and exoskeletons. Further, industrial mobile devices, natural and intuitive UI, and portable machine control screens enhance the ease of using such technology.
XR technologies like mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) are already in use in Industry 4.0 from the research and development (R&D) to full-scale production and post-production processes. This multi-experience paradigm is changing the way industrial manufacturing systems function. The nature of human-machine interaction is aligning more toward machine-enabled workers.
ULS Robotics – Exoskeleton Technology Platform
ULS Robotics is a Chinese startup developing an exoskeleton technology platform. Many workers on the shop floor encounter fatigue, weakness, and other physical discomforts due to the repetitive and monotonous nature of their tasks.
The use of exoskeletons on the shop floor helps workers in doing their tasks efficiently while reducing or eliminating any physical strain. Exoskeletons usually provide support for the waist, upper limb (with 4 degrees of freedom), and lower limb (with 12 degrees of freedom).
Arkellis Technologies – Industrial Metaverse
Arkellis Technologies is an Indian startup that makes a low-code framework for the industrial metaverse. It enables companies to use out-of-the-box AR and VR app development for businesses across verticals. The framework also features development tools, including tools for use cases like training, repair, maintenance, visualization, onboarding, and more.
By enabling companies to integrate life-size digital twins with data integration, the framework accelerates production workflows. This, in turn, speeds the time-to-market and enables them to mitigate expensive in-house product development from scratch.
3. Edge, Fog & Cloud Computing in Industry 4.0
The immense amount of data being generated by the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is propelling the adoption of edge, fog, and cloud computing capabilities in Industry 4.0. Custom hardware and software solutions like connected clouds, distributed clouds, distributed computing and storage, and hybrid computing are shaping up this industry 4.0 trend.
Low code development platforms, microservices, mobile computing, and multi-access edge computing are the other technologies advancing the integration of edge, fog, and cloud computing across industries.
Edgise – AI-Powered Edge Computing
Belgian startup Edgise provides hardware development as a service for edge computing applications. The startup shortens response time by moving AI from the cloud to the edge. The optimal performance of industrial systems depends on the efficient execution of the algorithm present in the machines.
Edge computing facilities, along with IIoT, greatly improve the speed, security, and efficiency of the manufacturing process by accelerating the running of algorithms. The company provides support to the entire edge computing product development cycle.
Atrio – Hybrid Cloud Computing
The US-based startup Atrio offers the Atrio Hybrid Composable Cloud, a software-defined single computing platform. Cloud computing capabilities improve manufacturing cycle times by providing quick insights into all steps in manufacturing.
The platform made by Atrio offers a single cloud-agnostic computing network that integrates common infrastructure and cloud services for creating, managing, and operating hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
4. Network & Connectivity
Network and connectivity are among the main driving forces in enabling Industry 4.0. A number of technology developments such as edge-to-cloud, gigabit ethernet time-sensitive networks, low-power wide-area network (LPWAN), 5G, machine-to-machine communication (M2M), real-time deterministic ethernet, time-sensitive networking (TSN), ubiquitous radio access, unified IoT framework, and zero-touch networks nudge factories to implement IIoT to transform into Industry 4.0 facilities.
These technologies constantly improve machine-machine and human-machine communication, as well as data transmission. As a result, innovations in this area increase speed, improve security and efficiency, and reduce the cost of network connectivity.
BehrTech – Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN)
BehrTech is a Canadian startup developing MIOTY, an LPWAN solution standardized by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute for IIoT. LPWAN solutions are ideal for connecting numerous machines in industrial complexes as they have a sufficient range and low implementation costs.
BehrTech uses Fraunhofer’s patented Telegram Splitting protocol, wherein a message is split into multiple smaller sub-packets and sent at different times and frequencies. It enables interference resilience, massive scalability, extensive coverage, and ultra-low power consumption.
Coretigo – Wireless IIoT Communication
Israeli startup Coretigo offers a wireless IIoT communication service based on the IO-Link Wireless standard. IO-link is a communication protocol that works point to point and is usually wired. The IO-Link Wireless design allows it to handle a large number of devices while maintaining low latency and high reliability. Coretigo aids in wireless communication between sensors, actuators, and controllers.
5. Advanced Robotics
Advancements in robotics make the processes in Industry 4.0 faster, more efficient, and safer. The most prominent robotic technologies impacting manufacturing include autonomous robots, collaborative robots (cobots), collaborative autonomous mobile robots, humanoid, mobile robots, cloud robotics, APIs, pick and place robots, and robot swarms.
The use of robots offers higher precision and agility while improving the capability of rapidly developing customizable robots. Robots also free up time for the human workforce to focus on other non-repetitive or high-value tasks.
Tutor Intelligence – AI Cobot
Tutor Intelligence is a US-based startup that makes an AI cobot for Industry 4.0. It leverages 3D AI vision to process surrounding data and automate conveyor loading, end-of-line (EoL) packing, and kitting. It does not require specific product data or 3D models.
Further, the startup follows an on-demand, leasing business model that makes the robot affordable for small and medium industrial businesses. This, in turn, improves the adoption of industry 4.0.
Sesto Robotics – Autonomous Mobile Robots
Singapore-based startup Sesto Robotics offers SESTO Element, a multi-purpose autonomous mobile robot. Autonomous robots are essential for industrial automation facilities and allow the human workforce to focus on higher-level tasks, such as factory management.
The compact mobile platform of SESTO Element is customizable with different types of top modules and is based on the nature of the tasks. The company also offers SESTO Prime, an autonomous mobile robot equipped with a 7-axis robotic arm.
6. Internet of Everything
The machine-machine, human-machine, and human-human real-time connectedness together comprise the internet of everything in manufacturing. It includes IIoT, internet of skills, internet of services, internet of systems, and shop floor IoT.
The internet of everything combines together real-time data, machine intelligence, and human skills, resulting in faster, more efficient, and cost-effective manufacturing processes. Interoperability and a unified internet of things framework are crucial for the smooth implementation of industry 4.0 facilities.
Cumulus – Internet of Industrial Maintenance
Cumulus is a US-based startup developing an internet of tools-enabled operations and maintenance management platform. The platform intends to replace the time-consuming nature of paper-based planning, execution, and reporting of maintenance activity.
The use of smart connected tools, along with their platform, leads to transparent and traceable records of all maintenance operations. This helps in reducing costs associated with quality control and improving overall productivity.
Hubbox – Remote Industrial Connectivity
Turkish startup Hubbox provides a secure industrial remote connection device for manufacturing companies. Currently, machines are still connected through a complex network of wires. Hubbox enables wireless connectivity between machines by creating a shop-floor internet of things solution.
The device comes with WAN, LAN, and WiFi interfaces and makes use of secure SSL certificates and advanced encryption methods. The device is also capable of communicating with ERP and creating ad-hoc M2M networks.
7. Big Data & Analytics
The scale of industrial data collection eventually enables factories to make the transition into industry 4.0 facilities. Big data is complex and is valuable only when it is captured, stored, and analyzed in a quick and cost-effective manner.
Advancements to utilize data for gaining valuable insights into the manufacturing systems, along with the availability of immediate and real-time data, open up opportunities for prescriptive and predictive analytics at different levels of a company’s manufacturing facilities.
Qsee – Predictive Analytics
Qsee is an Israeli startup developing prescriptive and predictive analytics tools for manufacturers. The software is capable of predicting product quality outcomes for every production batch and even for single products. Downtimes cause unnecessary losses to manufacturing firms in terms of both money and time.
Qsee performs root-cause analysis on manufacturing units to identify hidden contributors to low productivity and sends alerts to prevent downtime.
Curiosity – Knowledge Extraction Tools
German startup Curiosity offers software platforms for extracting knowledge from structured and unstructured data. The platform integrates with the existing data infrastructure and provides accessible knowledge for users in any industrial setting.
Data integration challenges in manufacturing companies arise due to the vast range of technical terms, documents, and abbreviations. Curiosity combines all relevant data sources into a knowledge graph that later helps in building custom tools for search and exploration.
8. Additive Manufacturing in Industry 4.0
Manufacturers constantly search for new technologies to cater to all aspects of the growing market demand. Additive manufacturing, which started out as a prototyping technique, is revolutionizing and decentralizing production. Hybrid manufacturing aims to integrate both additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing.
The advancement in material science and techniques such as stereolithography and metal 3D printing enables a simple fabrication of intricate structures and complex components. Additive manufacturing is making highly customizable and sustainable cloud-based production a reality.
AMBOTS – Autonomous Additive Manufacturing
The US-based startup AMBOTS develops an autonomous additive manufacturing solution by making use of swarm robots. Digital designs are split into smaller tasks that several different types of robots perform.
Currently, the speed of additive manufacturing is limited by the size of the product. AMBOTS addresses this bottleneck by making use of a proprietary chunk-based 3D printing method.
Exaddon – Micrometer 3D Metal Printing
Exaddon is a Swiss startup providing a metal additive manufacturing system, CERES, which prints at a micrometer scale. Producing micrometer-scale components is challenging with traditional manufacturing techniques such as lithography.
CERES uses electrochemical technology for achieving micro-manufacturing, conducting the process at room temperature while also eliminating post-processing. The system prints complex metal objects in sizes ranging from 1 micrometer up to 1000 micrometers.
9. Cybersecurity, Transparency & Privacy
The flow of information due to the connectedness in Industry 4.0 is raising concerns about security, transparency, and privacy. As manufacturing practices are increasingly becoming personal and customizable, the data management practices done outside and within the shop floor will hugely influence the appeal of the company. The transmission and processing of sensitive industrial data need to be done securely to avoid cyberattacks on critical industrial facilities.
Digital ethics and privacy, privacy-enhancing technologies, self-adaptive security, zero-trust security, end-to-end communication security, DevSecOps, and blockchain are some of the new developments in this field. The focus on cybersecurity needs to be balanced with transparency and privacy.
Alias Robotics – Robot Immune System
Spanish startup Alias Robotics develops a robot immune system (RIS), an endpoint protection platform for robots. This solution provides malware protection to robots and robotic components. The modular architecture of RIS gives the system flexibility and adaptability and caters to a variety of robots.
The company also offers a secure data recorder for investigating cyber attacks or malfunctions in robots. The use of industrial robots in all stages of manufacturing necessitates innovations like RIS.
Adolus – Secure Software Updates
Industry 4.0 makes use of smart, connected devices sourced from multiple vendors. These devices need to be updated constantly with the latest software, firmware, and configuration files. Adolus is a Canadian startup providing a secure update process for embedded devices. Cybercriminals potentially interfere with the upgrading process and compromise industrial facilities by tricking the staff into installing infected files.
Adolus develops FACT, which solves this problem by working with equipment vendors to collect unique fingerprints of the files and compares these fingerprints with the ones received by the manufacturers. FACT gives a confidence rating during installation as well as visibility over the upgrading processes in critical systems.
10. Digital Twin
Digital twin technology creates virtual models of industrial assets by combining dynamic real-time sensing and visualization data. Some of the promising use cases of digital twins include model-driven design, virtual prototyping, virtual system validation, throughput optimization, and evolutionary design.
The use of digital twins is propelling industry 4.0 manufacturing towards hyper-automation. Digital twins provide valuable insights into all steps of the manufacturing process.
Gemius – Industrial Process Twin
The US-based startup Gemius develops a digital twin solution for various industrial processes. The solution allows manufacturing facilities to standardize meticulous operation and maintenance practices to optimize output. The physics-constrained AI, which drives the Gemius digital twin, provides self-optimized design and operational intelligence.
The digital twin utilizes SCADA systems to integrate with operational data, historian software, sensor gateways, and enterprise asset management tools.
Simularge – Digital Twins With Less Data
Turkish startup Simularge develops a patented approach for making digital twins without the requirement of big data. Usually, huge amounts of data are needed for making effective digital twins and ensuring minimal under-utilization of input parameters.
Simularge’s algorithms enable the quick creation of digital twins and faster adaptation as they identify and monitor for changes in the raw materials of the production process.
Discover all Industry 4.0 Technologies & Startups
Rapid advancements in emerging technologies such as the industrial internet of things (IIoT), mobile robots, additive manufacturing, industrial connectivity, and AI-enabled solutions advance industrial automation. The trends in Industry 4.0 & startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of trends that we identified during our in-depth research. Among others, volumetric displays, blockchain, and cloud computing technologies will transform the sector as we know it today. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business early on goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout relevant technologies & startups that matter to you.