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A study by the European Patent Office (EPO) confirms the rapid development of Industry 4.0. It reveals that more than 5,000 patent applications for inventions relating to autonomous objects were submitted to the EPO in 2016 alone. The number of applications in this area has risen at an above-average rate of 54% in the past three years. The top positions in Europe in 4IR innovations are held by Germany (vehicles, infrastructure, manufacturing) and France (artificial intelligence, security, user interfaces and 3D systems).

The study also shows, however, that large companies dominate the fourth industrial revolution. Half of all 4IR patent applications between 2011 and 2016 were filed by only 25 companies, most of them Asian. Siemens has also made it into the top 25, alongside European companies Nokia, Philips, Technicolor and Ericsson. With its cloud-based MindSphere 3.0 IoT operating system, the German company is primarily advancing digitalization in the automation sector. With its latest 4IR innovations , it promises shorter time-to-market and greater flexibility, efficiency and quality in the manufacturing and process industries.