Press release

The G20 business group meets in Bilbao to find out about the Basque experience in Industry 4.0

14 March 2018

The B20 has chosen Bilbao to organise this unique forum, involving over 300 companies, searching for good management practices in Industry 4.0 as an inspiration to the policy recommendations to the G20 countries

The event began with an informal meeting attended by The Basque premier Iñigo Urkullu and the Minister of Economic Development and Infrastructure of the Basque Country, Arantxa Tapia; the Chairman of TECNALIA, Emiliano López Atxurra; the B20 Executive Sherpa, Carolina Castro; and representatives from companies such as CAF, Gestamp, Petronor or Siemens, among other important personalities

Bilbao, 12th March 2018. Business 20 (B20), the business group linked to the G20 group of countries, today in Bilbao held the “B20: Digital Economy and Industry 4.0” event, a unique forum in which the leading companies of the local and international private sector linked to the B20 have discussed and debated the Digital Economy and Industry 4.0, putting the Basque case forward as an example of success and a strategy for companies to follow. The event was organised by TECNALIA, who was chosen by the B20 as its expert partner within the Digital Economy and Industry 4.0 framework, and was held in the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, where more than 300 Basque companies came together.

The earlier meeting was attended by Basque premier Iñigo Urkullu and the Minister of Economic Development and Infrastructure of the Basque Country, Arantxa Tapia; the Chairman of TECNALIA, Emiliano López Atxurra; the CEO of TECNALIA, Iñaki San Sebastián; the Digital Economy and Industry 4.0 Leadership Team of the B20 with its CEO, Carolina Castro, and representatives from CAF, Gestamp, Petronor, Siemens and other companies.

The Basque premier Urkullu emphasised that “our objective is to achieve an industrial GDP of 25% by the year 2020. We are working to improve the attractiveness of our economic ecosystem and I highlight three ideas: business culture, digitalisation and internationalisation." In addition, he explained that his wish is to spread the innovation culture to small and medium sized companies, taking into account that 90% of the Basque Country’s productive network is composed of SMEs.

The Basque premier also pointed out that collaboration is essential: “In Basque, we express this with the word “auzolana”, meaning shared work for the pursuit of the common good. This is a very deep-rooted working culture in our Country”.

During his inauguration, the Chairman of TECNALIA, Emiliano López Atxurra, stated that this event “is in recognition of the work being carried out by the Basque industry, with TECNALIA's collaboration to tailor its productive capacity and its products to the demanding and competitive world of energy and mobility. For us, these working platforms are of great importance because they are a way of introducing the determining role of SMEs in the world economy into the international agenda”.

For her part, Carolina Castro, B20 Executive Sherpa, stated that “the fourth industrial revolution associated with the digital economy requires the cooperation of governments and large and small businesses to promote technological innovation. B20 convenes this event in Bilbao, searching for good management practices as an inspiration to our policy recommendations to the countries of the G20”.

José Manuel González-Páramo, Member of the BBVA Board of Directors, claimed that “at BBVA, we are technological optimists. We must coordinate work between the public and private sector to make available for the general public the opportunities of this new era”.

The Minister of Economic Development and Infrastructure of the Basque Country, Arantxa Tapia, presented the Basque experience in Industry 4.0 and referred to the Basque Country as one of the best positioned European regions in terms of connectivity. The Minister explained the actions being taken in the Basque Country to prevent small and medium sized business from falling behind in the fourth industrial revolution: “We cannot allow an industry to progress at two speeds, as this would scuttle and penalise the competitiveness of the system” she pointed out.

For this reason, within the industrial strategy 4.0 framework, the Minister wanted to stress that “the Basque Country offers open infrastructures to the SMEs, such as the Digital Innovation Hub or the Basque Cybersecurity Centre. Here SMEs who may need to test or try out advanced technologies can do so, without having to withstand impossible investments for the small companies”. 

Her speech was followed by that of Jorge Aguado, Secretary of Policies in Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of the Government of Argentina (a country which will host the next G20 summit) and member of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group Troika. Aguado stated that Argentina’s priority as the next host of the G20 is “to achieve the consensus required to generate an equitable and sustainable growth of the different world regions. To do this, we will work on three major areas: sustainable food security, infrastructure for development and future of the work”.

Maurits Butter, Senior Researcher of Innovation of the TNO (the Netherlands) and expert in the European digital innovation Hubs wished to emphasise in his speech the challenge of the intelligent Dutch industry: “We must create a common agenda between the Administration and the industry of the country; and, to do this, the Basque Country is a great example. The policy agenda must include industry and obtain the support of the Government”.

The companies, success stories

Subsequently, representatives of benchmark companies reported on their successful experiences with digitalisation in the industrial sector. Rosa García, Chairperson and CEO of Siemens España stated that “15 years ago, we detected a new trend we did not know how to interpret: digitalisation.” And she explained how technology has radically changed the needs of the customers and, consequently, the standards within companies. “We are an industrial company that has applied the necessary medicine to undertake a major transformation, as we had to be capable of digitalising not only the heart of the company but also the relationship with our clients" explained the Chairperson of Siemens España.

For his part, Pablo de la Puente, Corporate Information Systems Director at GESTAMP, underlined that, “We began the company’s digitalisation process in 2014. Where we had systems before, now we were talking about big data. At GESTAMP, , we have based this digital transformation on three fundamental aspects: persons, systems and technology; and on the network of organisations which help us and give us support to undertake this kind of process”.

Iñigo Ona, Chief Digital Officer of CAF, based his speech on his own experiences within the company: “We compete at the top level both in product and service, and a few years ago we began the digitalisation process, based precisely on these two challenges: achieve more efficient trains with lower overall product cost and, furthermore, optimise our processes. In summary, digital trains which are manufactured in a factory that is also digital”.

Finally, Elías Unzueta, Director of Petronor Innovación, reviewed the situation of the refining sector in Europe, where 29 refineries have closed over the last 10 years: “We need a transformation of the company which helps us to confront the situation in the sector and we believe that digitalisation is an excellent tool which may help us survive in this new competitive environment. To do this, we concentrate our forces on three areas: safety, efficiency and reliability”.

The business panel was moderated by Fernando Landa, member of the B20 organisation, who indicated that “one of the priorities of the G20 is the future of work. This topic is closely related to the digital economy and the impact of new productive models. From the B20 we are tackling an agenda of concrete proposals in this regard”.

It is important to note that the event also benefited from the collaboration of the Basque Government, BBVA and ELAN Network, underlining the importance of cooperation as key in achieving a sustainable strategy.

About the B20

Business 20 (B20) is the business community linked to the G20 group of countries, whose objective is to direct the public policy recommendations to the Heads of State and Ministers of these countries.

About Tecnalia

TECNALIA is a benchmark Research and Technological Development Centre for Europe, with 1,400 experts representing 30 different nationalities, focusing on transforming technology into GDP to improve people's quality of life, by creating business opportunities for companies.

This role of catalyst in the process of implementing new technologies for the transformation in industrial companies is what has driven TECNALIA as a concept partner of the B20 in the industry 4.0 area.