Industry 4.0 Collaborative

Research, Innovation and Development (RID) Projects



By Dr. Brane Semolic

LENS Living Lab, Slovenia


Prof Pieter Steyn

Cranefield College, South Africa



Post-globalisation industry, called “Industry 4.0” (there are some forecasts of Industry 5.0 already), characterised by digitalised high-technology and instability of business environments, demands continuous inflow of novelties, innovative improvements, and change. Modern technology products and solutions are geared by the mix of interrelated technologies, powered by different professions and industries. Digital and innovation literacy, supported by a collaboration culture on all levels and areas of business is becoming the critical enabling competencies of societies. Open the boxes and collaborate with the partners in your value chain. Find new authentic business models for exchange of information and ideas. Establish collaboration with stakeholders (customers, end-users, suppliers, partners, technologies, developers, etc. These are the main challenges of contemporary organisations and their environments. Modern effective and efficient organisations are becoming more cross-functional, flexible, agile and virtual. Their boundaries are blurred and not closed as they were at the time of the early industrial eras. This paper discusses management and leadership complexity challenges of collaborative industry research, innovation and development projects, its innovation ecosystems, and related emerging competencies.

Keywords: projects, project management, collaboration, virtual organisation, research and innovation, open innovation environment, communities, complexity


In recent years the world is witnessing simultaneous and profound changes in all areas of private and public corporate activities. Organisational and private lives are becoming highly volatile and value-driven, demanding continuous innovation and learning. These changes, caused by the inflow of new digital enabling technologies[1] intertwining with our daily lives, influence the way we are performing our organisational activities and daily chores (Semolic and Steyn, Sept. 2017). Moreover, this is only the first taste of dramatic changes in the years to come.

The key research findings in the  2016 Global Industry 4.0 Survey Report, published by PWC (Geissbauer, Vedso, Schrauf, 2016), reflect the following needs or situations:

  • Industry 4.0 moved from theories and strategies to the real investments and actions.
  • Companies that successfully implemented Industry 4.0 no longer need to choose between focusing on a better top or bottom line. They can improve both at the same time.
  • Deepen digital relationships with more empowered customers. Customers will be at the centre of changes to value chains, products, and
  • Focus on people and culture to drive transformation. This survey output shows that industry’s most profound implementation challenge is not the right technology, but a lack of digital culture and skills in their organisations.
  • Data analytics and digital trust are the foundation of Industry 4.0.
  • Robust, enterprise-wide data analytics capabilities require significant change. Companies need to develop robust organisational structures to support data analytics as an enterprise-level capability.
  • Industry 4.0 is accelerating globalism, but with a distinctly regional flavor.
  • Significant investments with big impacts are required: It is time to commit. It is estimated that global industrial product companies will invest USD 907 billion per year through 2020. The primary focus will be on digital technologies like sensors or connectivity devices, as well as on software and applications like manufacturing execution systems (MES). Moreover, companies are investing in the education and training of employees, and driving organisational

The Roundtable on Digitizing European industry – Work Group 1 Report, avers that “digitalization is essentially an innovation issue”, and organisations are approaching it with the usual wide variety of attitudes, methods and expectations encountered in managing innovation.  These attitudes depend on the organisation’s digital maturity[2]. The urgent need for such innovation and change should rather be explained and motivated by the language of increasing profitability, competitiveness or customer satisfaction rather than hard technologies. Abstract terms such as “Industry 4.0” or “digital transformation” are likely to be unattractive in some business environments, like small and medium-sized enterprises (WG1 Report, 2017).

Global intensive digitalisation processes and technical complexity of industry products and services are generating the new landscape of Industry 4.0 markets. The global and regional markets are in the process of radical strategic change and transformation. Big companies will not solely dominate on these markets anymore. There is a place for innovative small and medium-sized companies that are becoming global leaders with their innovative products.  Capacities to generate market attractive products and services by exploitation of the creative mix of own, regional and global technology resources formed in the innovative, flexible digitalised processes of agile, value and supporting supply chains, will be preconditions of business success. Allocation and sustainable exploitation of the regional innovation potential can generate benefits for all involved parties in such endeavors.

Industry 4.0 businesses are flourishing in regions and countries with adequate competencies, available resources, transformational leadership, sound corporate culture and sustainable regional support.  Modern Industry 4.0 organisations in regions and countries are searching for new mechanisms to create favourable business conditions by providing adequate supporting services (Steyn and Semolic, March 2017).


To read entire paper, click here


How to cite this paper: Semolic, B. & Steyn, P. (2018). Industry 4.0 Collaborative Research, Innovation and Development (RID) Projects, PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue VIII – August.  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/pmwj73-Aug2018-Semolic-Steyn-Industry4.0-Collaborative-RID-Projects-featured-paper.pdf


About the Authors

Prof Dr Brane Semolic

Founder and Head of LENS Living Lab –
International living laboratory
Celje, Slovenia



Brane Semolic studied mechanical engineering, engineering economics, and informatics; he holds a scientific master degree and doctorate in business informatics. His focus of professional interest is industrial and system engineering, innovation and technology management, virtual organizations and systems, project and knowledge management. He has 40 years of working experiences in different industries (industrial engineering, IT, chemicals, household appliances, government, and education), as an expert, researcher, manager, entrepreneur, counselor to the Slovenian government and professor.  He operates as head of the open research and innovation organization LENS Living Lab. LENS Living Lab is an international industry-driven virtual living laboratory. He is acting as initiator and coordinator of various research and innovation collaboration platforms, programs and projects for the needs of different industries (ICT, robotics, laser additive manufacturing, logistics, education). He was co-founder and the first director of the TCS – Toolmakers Cluster of Slovenia (EU automotive industry suppliers). Since 2004 he is serving as the president of the TCS council of experts. Besides this, he is operating as a part-time professor at the Cranefield College.

He was head of project and information systems laboratory at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Head of the Project & Technology Management Institute at the Faculty of Logistics, University of Maribor and professor of project and technology management at the graduate and postgraduate level. He acted as a trainer at the International »European Project Manager« post-graduated program, organized jointly by the University of Bremen.

He was the co-founder and president of the Project Management Association of Slovenia (ZPM), vice president of IPMA (International Project Management Association), chairman of the IPMA Research Management Board (2005-2012), and technical vice-chairman of ICEC (International Cost Engineering Council).  Now he is serving as a director of the IPMA & ICEC strategic alliance. He actively participated in the development of the IPMA 4-level project managers’ certification program. He introduced and was the first director of the IPMA certification program in Slovenia. He has been serving as the assessor in this certification program since 1997. He performed as assessor in the IPMA International PM Excellence Award Program in China, India, and Slovenia.

He is a registered assessor for the accreditation of education programs and education organizations by the EU-Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

He was a Member of Strategic Advisory Board of European Competitiveness and Innovation, as well as the president of the Slovenian Chamber of Business Services.

He got the award as ICEC Distinguished International Fellow in 2008. He received the »Silver Sign« for his achievements in research, education, and collaboration with the industry from the University of Maribor in 2015.

Professor Semolic is also an academic advisor for the PM World Journal.  He can be contacted at brane.semolic@3-lab.eu.   Additional information about the LENS Living Lab can be found at http://www.3-lab.eu/ .

To view other works by Prof Semolic, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/brane-semolic/


Prof Dr Pieter Steyn

Founder, Director, Principal
Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management
Pretoria & Western Cape, South Africa


Pieter Steyn is Founder and Principal of Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management, a South African Council on Higher Education / Department of Education accredited and registered Private Higher Education Institution. The Institution offers an Advanced Certificate, Advanced Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s degree, and PhD in project and programme-based leadership and management. Professor Steyn holds the degrees BSc (Eng), MBA, and PhD in management, and is a registered Professional Engineer.

He was formerly professor in the Department of Management, University of South Africa and Pretoria University Business School. He founded the Production Management Institute of South Africa, and in 1979 pioneered Project Management as a university subject at the post-graduate level at the University of South Africa.

Dr Steyn founded consulting engineering firm Steyn & Van Rensburg (SVR). Projects by SVR include First National Bank Head Office (Bank City), Standard Bank Head Office, Mandela Square Shopping Centre (in Johannesburg) as also, Game City- and The Wheel Shopping Centres (in Durban). He, inter alia, chaired the Commission of Enquiry into the Swaziland Civil Service; and acted as Programme Manager for the Strategic Transformation of the Gauteng Government’s Welfare Department and Corporate Core.

Pieter co-authored the “International Handbook of Production and Operations Management,” (Cassell, London, 1989, ed. Ray Wild) and is the author of many articles and papers on leadership and management. He is a member of the Association of Business Leadership, Industrial Engineering Institute, Engineering Association of South Africa, and Project Management South Africa (PMSA); and a former member of the Research Management Board of IPMA. He serves on the Editorial Board of the PM World Journal. Pieter is also Director of the De Doornkraal Wine Estate in Riversdale, Western Cape.

Professor Steyn can be contacted at [email protected]. For information about Cranefield College, visit www.cranefield.ac.za.

To view other works by Prof Steyn, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-pieter-steyn/


[1] Enabling Technologies – Equipment and/or methodology that, alone or in combination with associated technologies, provides the means to generate giant leaps in performance and capabilities of the user. For example, the coming together of telecommunication technologies, internet, and groupware has leveled the field so that even smaller firms are able to compete in areas where they otherwise could not (Business Dictionary, 2018)

[2] Digital Maturity – “Digital maturity is about adapting the organization to compete effectively in an increasingly digital environment. Maturity goes far beyond simply implementing new technology by aligning the company’s strategy, workforce, culture, technology, and structure to meet the digital expectations of customers, employees, and partners. Digital maturity is, therefore, a continuous and ongoing process of adaptation to a changing digital landscape” (Kane et al, 2017)