Over the past decade, the global Hi-Tech sector has experienced dramatic and unprecedented rates of technological advancements that have the potential to transform countless industries. The exponential growth of such technologies has led experts to refer to the phenomenon as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.
Under this framework, the First Industrial Revolution (Industry 1.0) refers to the advancements in water and steam-powered machines beginning in 1760 that led to the rise of large-scale factories as hubs of manufacturing and industry. During the Second Industrial Revolution (Industry 2.0) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, rapid electrification and expansion of rail and telegraph networks enabled mass production and distribution of commercial products. Industry 3.0 took place in the late 20th century with the production and advancement of computer and information technologies such as personal computers, the Internet, and cellular phones.
Beginning in the 2010s, the Fourth Industrial Revolution marks the technological transition towards automation, interconnectivity, and decentralization. Unlike the gradual transitions of the first three Revolutions, Industry 4.0 is developing at such an exponential pace that growth is often measured by year rather than by decade. Major advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud technology, and more over the past few years alone have the potential to drastically change how products are developed, distributed, and used. Industry 4.0 is expected to particularly impact manufacturing, as “smart factories” have begun using computer-integrated autonomous machinery and advanced data analytics that substantially lower production costs.
Unsurprisingly, the Start-up Nation has positioned itself as a key player in the development of such innovative technologies. As demonstrated in StartupBlink’s Startup Ecosystem Index 2022, Israel ranks second-best in the world for Hardware & IoT (Internet of Things) and Software & Data, as well as third-best in the world for its startup ecosystem. According to the report, 67% of startup funding for the Middle East and Africa went to Israeli innovations.
To use one notable example, Israeli startups have made numerous monumental advancements in automatic delivery systems. Although widespread deployment is years away, drones and other unmanned vehicles now have the ability to make autonomous commercial deliveries. Companies such as HighLander, Flytrex Aviation, Gadfin, Heaven Drones, and others are working to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of drone deliveries at all stages of the delivery process. Once integrated into existing delivery systems, these technologies have the potential to thoroughly transform commercial product distribution.
Although Industry 4.0 presents encouraging possibilities for societal and industry development, some experts worry about a lack of proper regulation with such novel technologies. In 2019, it was decided that Israel would join the World Economic Forum’s Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), a global network dedicated to sharing knowledge, experience, and best practices regarding innovative technology regulation. Led by Israel’s Innovation Authority, the C4IR-affiliated Israeli Center for Regulation of Innovative Technologies promotes the responsible development and regulation of new devices, most notably in the context of smart transportation, AI, and autonomous vehicles.