Cooperation between start-ups and industrial companies is crucial for industry's future

PwC presents the results of the first Industry 4.0 study on start-ups

Start-ups supply industrial digital technology primarily to production companies. PwC shows that strengthening the ecosystem with industrial companies as well as their suppliers and partners is crucial for the future of industry in Belgium.

  • 57% of participants say the maturity of technology was the main argument to start the business.
  • 83% of participants indicated that their solution will improve overall operational performance.

For the first time, PwC is mapping the landscape of Belgian start-ups offering Industry 4.0 solutions. To do so, PwC Belgium conducted in-depth interviews with founders and executives of 30 start-ups and high-growth companies active in the industrial digital technology sector.

The study provides an insight into how start-ups create value for their customers and how they approach the market. In addition, the study captured how starters experience the Industry 4.0 ecosystem and what challenges they see. PwC also formulates its vision on the necessary steps that needed to further develop the market.  

Belgium as a springboard

In the current environment, technology plays the leading role, which is why start-ups spend a lot of energy selecting and developing the right applications with the best added value. Start-ups are ambitious and often consider Belgium as a test market where they develop products and strategies before exporting them to larger market areas.

Start-ups usually offer solutions to improve the operational performance of industrial companies. That is what those customers expect, as shown by the previous PwC study on Industry 4.0.

Start-ups show what they can do in a proof of concept (PoC). Clients can then assess whether the solution also offers added value in their own context. A PoC often lasts no longer than three months and is relatively inexpensive. It is an important step in building a business relationship with the company.

The Industry 4.0 ecosystem supports start-ups

In an ecosystem, start-ups can increase their own awareness and that of their solutions. This also supports the growth of their business. Respondents said there was considerable support for start-ups, but they felt that more attention should be paid to the growth phase in the ecosystem.

To ensure the future of both start-ups and industrial companies, the ecosystem must formulate clear strategic objectives that look beyond a one-off PoC. Peter Vermeire, partner management consulting PwC Belgium, states: "Start-ups and industrial companies need to intensify their cooperation and review their existing processes from a new perspective. Ultimately, the Belgian manufacturing industry will only flourish if both parties work together towards a common goal.” 

About PwC's Industry 4.0 research

The study involved 24 start-ups and 6 more mature companies (scale-ups). PwC interviewed the founders and managers about the context in which they work, their experiences with the development of their company and their assessment of the Belgian ecosystem.  

PwC compared the results of these interviews with the results of previous studies on Industry 4.0 at the production companies themselves. That’s how it was possible to identify the expectations of both parties and to formulate a common objective.

Peter Vermeire Partner at PwC Belgium
Saskia Rademakers Marketing & Communication Director at PwC Belgium