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Industry 4.0 Accelerating Sustainable Manufacturing in the COVID-19 Era: Assessing the Readiness and Responsiveness of Italian Regions

Dominique Lepore (), Alessandra Micozzi () and Francesca Spigarelli ()
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Dominique Lepore: Department of Law, University of Macerata, Pioggia della Libertà, 62100 Macerata, Italy
Alessandra Micozzi: Department of Engineering Management, University E-Campus, Via Isimbardi, 22060 Novedrate, Italy
Francesca Spigarelli: Department of Law, University of Macerata, Pioggia della Libertà, 62100 Macerata, Italy

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 5, 1-19

Abstract: An unpredictable shock hit the Italian economy in February 2020 when the spread of the COVID-19 virus began in Italy and other countries worldwide. In this context, Industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies can be a fundamental tool for economic recovery by favouring the shift towards sustainable manufacturing. Therefore, it is necessary to measure the readiness of countries for I4.0 in order to guide policies in defining incentives to promote I4.0 and unlock its potential in the pandemic era. In this context, the paper aims to understand the readiness and responsiveness of the Italian Regions with respect to I4.0 concepts prior to the pandemic and identify best practices that are supporting companies in I4.0 adoption, with a focus on those incentivizing sustainable practices. An assessment framework before the pandemic is provided based on two dimensions: the readiness of firms to invest in I4.0 and favourable structural conditions. The assessment shows a group of alert regions as opposed to a group of unprepared, mostly linked Northern and Southern differences. Assuming that the “alert regions” are more likely to effectively manage and overcome the post- COVID-19 crisis, we provide a picture of how the Italian Regions have sought to encourage the adoption of digital technologies to improve resilience after the shock. The analysis shows that supporting measures mainly address Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Furthermore, the tenders encouraging the adoption of I4.0 suggest that collaboration among stakeholders will become imperative.

Keywords: pandemic; innovation; sustainability; lockdown (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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