06. September 2021 | Position
At present, the environment is changing rapidly for industrial companies. Digital transformation is progressing fast. For chemical and pharmaceutical businesses, opportunities are arising through efficiency potentials, new business fields and better networking in the supply chain.
Also, sustainable management and sustainable consumption have gained in importance. Sustainability and digitalisation are profoundly changing industrial structures. The chemical-pharmaceutical industry with its innovations decisively contributes to a sustainable development.
Digitalisation for the chemistry of tomorrow
In this transformation, the companies are changing their products, processes and businesses models – stepwise and fundamentally. Here, the linking of products with services is the key for additional value creation. In the chemical-pharmaceutical industry, digitalisation means not only the use of internal and external data to optimise operational processes; it also means the development of new, digital business models. According to a study of 2020, already 14 percent of the industry’s companies are using artificial intelligence (AI). Furthermore, the companies are developing future-oriented solutions with impulses for a sustainable economy.
Overall, the industry invests every year a mid three-digit million amount in digitalisation projects. Add to this over 12 billion euros annually for general research spending on innovations in different facets.
Within the above-described transformation, the industry is gradually changing from a supplier of materials to a provider of solutions and services. The industry has ambitious plans to 2050: It wants to become climate-neutral and make do without fossil raw materials – without reducing its commitment to sustainable growth and development in Germany.
Tailwind from industrial policy is needed
The chemical-pharmaceutical industry is comprehensively addressing the high demands which are being put on it. However, a paradigm shift also depends on support through industrial policy measures. Structural change succeeds best in a legal environment which encourages new products, services and investments instead of obstructing them.
The completion of the European digital single market is another urgent matter: In the development of the digital technologies of the future, only this single market is a counterweight to the USA and China which hold today the leading positions in many innovative technologies.
THE VCI IS CALLING FOR THE FOLLOWING
- Further drive forward digital developments
The public sector should efficiently promote the expansion of technical infrastructure and digital education. In the future, data analysis and artificial intelligence should be no longer exclusively a field of work for specialists; they should be firmly included in curriculums of schools from an early stage. The telecommunica-tions infrastructure should be expanded nationwide by 2025 at the latest. This equally applies for both glass fibre-based landlines and 4G/5G mobile services. In parallel, a high-performance security network needs to be built in Germany and Europe between public authorities, companies and research facilities.
- Create structures where digitalisation potentials can fully unfold
Politicians should give more impulses by way of the following: tackle urgent investments in the digital infra-structure, support the digitalisation of industry with efficient regulation, make further efforts for trade liberalisation, and define rules for a legally sound international data exchange. Data protection should not impair the development of end customer-oriented, individualised business models.
- Responsible regulation of new technologies
Artificial intelligence stands at the beginning of its development. Its success largely depends on an innovation-friendly environment. If specific regulation is needed at all, it should be coordinated and agreed across national borders – in order to prevent local competitive disadvantages. It must be prevented that future business models or innovations are adversely affected by present-day regulation. Currently, the proposals for an AI regulation from the EU Commission are undergoing a thorough assessment by the chemical-pharmaceutical industry.
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