Rekindling the industrial flame

I can think of no other time in my nearly three decades as a journalist when manufacturing and related industrial pursuits have enjoyed quite the profile they do today.

On the one hand, digital technologies have exacerbated concerns over worker displacement as well as fears of cyber vulnerability of our energy, food and water supplies. At the same time, digital-solution providers and tech investors are realizing that the sheer scale of industry means outsized returns for even incremental gains in industrial productivity.

Increasingly, digital transformation of industry is also seen as a means of restoring relative competitive parity among developed and emerging economies. And it’s not just the U.S., China, Germany and Japan wrestling for an upper hand. Other governments around the world are jockeying to ensure that their manufacturing sectors are well positioned to participate in this fourth industrial revolution. Take France, for instance.

In 2015, President Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of the Economy, launched the second phase of the French reindustrialization plan under the name “Industry of the Future.” This program aims to encourage French companies to modernize their production facilities as well as transform their business models, organizational methods and marketing approaches to take advantage of emerging and disruptive technologies. To coordinate this project on a national scale, the French government created the Industry of the Future Alliance to council existing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as start-ups with the potential to contribute to the country’s ability to provide world-class solutions to its manufacturing industry.

Now, under the aegis of Business France, the French Economic Trade Mission, and the DGE, the French Directorate General for Enterprise, the Alliance is taking its Industry of the Future show on the road, helping eight competitive French start-ups and SMEs to establish a foothold in the U.S. market. The selected companies will be supported by Business France for ten months, including a one-week immersion in Chicago and Detroit to explore business opportunities.

My Smart Industry colleagues and I are especially honored and excited to announce that the French delegation has made our very own Smart Industry 2017 conference, to be held September 18-20 in Chicago, a cornerstone of their visit to the U.S. We hope you come to hear our conference program of innovators from leading industrial companies players like Navistar, Steelcase and Exelon tell their stories of digital transformation. And we think you’ll stick around to learn more about what the French companies Adequaly, Inoprod, Monixo, Predict, Productys, SirFull, Visuol Technologies and Zylia Tech have to offer. I’m looking forward to seeing you in September.

Keith Larson is vice president of content with Smart Industry.