The Plan

The 4STEPS project has been one of the 44 cooperation projects funded in 2019 under the Interreg Central Europe programme. 

The project, which will end in March 2022, is addressing the main challenge of Industry 4.0 (I4.0) as tool towards a new, digital industrial revolution holding the promise of increased flexibility in manufacturing, mass customisation, increased speed, better quality and improved productivity and its development is supporting the RIS3 in the target regions in the different sectors. 

SMEs in the target regions are lagging in the adoption of innovative tools and solutions proposed by I4.0 revolution and need to increase transnational collaboration in facing this challenge. Main project objective is supporting the successful RIS3 implementation applying the I4.0 to all the industrial sectors identified by each region. The innovative elements of 4STPES will be the methodology applied based on the involvement of all the actors of the quadruple helix, thanks to a bottom-up approach. 

The DIH will be the internationalised regional networks and the SMEs clusters will foster technology transfer and the development and implementation of new services supporting innovation in businesses, in particular applying from the bottom – i.e., stating from the needs of the companies and of the society – the Industry 4.0 principles (incentives to investments in R&D, tax credit, amortizations system). Industry 4.0 and technological process can’t lead simply to innovations inside the SMEs, but now the companies need a holistic approach involving all the sectors and the stakeholders and applying new ideas and principles. The transnational links between innovation actors, the actors of the quadruple helix approach and the critical mass of innovative actors will support the RIS3 implementation and efficacy, thanks also to the Industry 4.0 application.

SMEs is the main target, and they are involved via the CE network of the Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH)– also including the relevant stakeholders of the R&D sector, governance actors, society thanks to a holistic approach. 4STEPS leads to an improved level of innovative productive methods and application of I4.0 thanks to a Catalogue development of main possible services offered, a Technology Maturity Level Index development, Transnational Action plan and the creation of the Digital Innovation Hubs, tested during the pilot actions. Within this approach of networking 4STEPS will include also a solution preparing the CE citizen towards the digital future during targeted workshop for digital skills improvement. The project approach developed within the 4STPES project considers the Industry 4.0 plans applied in CE countries which is are linked to the digitalised production system that will result in a wide range of changes to manufacturing processes, outcomes and business models. Main project objective is supporting the successful RIS3 implementation applying the Industry 4.0 to all the industrial sectors identified by each region.


RE:Lab has been involved in all the steps of the project’s implementation. In particular, RE:Lab has supported the definition of a user-friendly, accurate and coherent transnational tool for the SMEs analysis and has contributed to the definition of the contents and the formats of the catalogue, with special attention to the identification of the final users’ needs. Moreover, RE:Lab has contributed in the definition of the TML index, with special attention to the methodological aspects and to the identification of coherent indicators. 

The role of RE:Lab within the project has been fundamental to the definition of action models and guidelines adapted to the involved companies’ needs, and to support both the identification of the priorities for the Emilia Romagna region and the creation of a new 4.0 brand, with special attention to the communication effectiveness. 

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