Technology transfer: Industry 4.0 Observatory with BI-REX

The image accompanying the News on the 3rd Industry 4.0 Observatory, dedicated to the effects of the adoption of 4.0 technologies on the economic-financial results of companies, portrays a cutting-edge assembly line, in which three people monitor the work from a PC

Intesa Sanpaolo and the competence centre BI-REX have presented the results of the third Industry 4.0 Observatory, dedicated to the effects of the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies on companies' financial results.

The initiative aims to assist and support SMEs based in Emilia-Romagna in their journey towards technological innovation and digital transformation, with an emphasis on technology transfer.

The analysis carried out by Intesa Sanpaolo's Research Department on more than 230 companies highlights the robust financial performances of Industry 4.0 companies, which are more dynamic and have a more evolved strategic profile:

Third Intesa Sanpaolo – BI-REX Observatory: financial performance of Industry 4.0 companies

By the Intesa Sanpaolo Research Department


The company performance analysis was carried out on a sample of 234 companies that participated in the Intesa Sanpaolo-BI-REX technology transfer survey conducted in 2022. The sample analysed includes companies operating in Emilia-Romagna and Marche in the metalworking and mechanical engineering, electronics, electrical engineering, ICT and business service sectors. More than half of the companies in the sample (63.2%) cited at least one Industry 4.0 technology, with a widespread presence across sectors and company sizes. 

The results show a more dynamic performance by Industry 4.0 companies, which reported turnover growth of 32.5% (median value) from 2019 and to 2022, greater than that reported by companies that do not adopt Industry 4.0 solutions, whose growth rate was 16.6%. This difference may be seen across all size classes and all sectors surveyed. This result can be explained by greater resilience in the pandemic year and greater dynamism, which emerged above all in 2022. Results were also better at the level of margins for the more technologically advanced companies, which had a higher EBITDA margin, i.e. EBITDA compared to turnover (10.7% in 2022 vs. 9.8%), and showed greater resilience over the period under review.

Adopting advanced technological solutions also yields benefits in terms of productivity: from 2019 to 2022, added value per employee of Industry 4.0 companies rose by 21.6% (+€13,000 per employee), compared to a smaller increase of 7.8% for the rest of the sample.

During this four-year period, companies also showed a significant strengthening of equity, with an increase in the ratio of equity to total assets, which was however higher for Industry 4.0 companies (33.5% vs. 30%). It is also interesting to note that the companies had more cash among their assets in 2022 than in 2019, available to support investments in a context of slowing growth and uncertainty. Once again, Industry 4.0 companies increased this ratio the most and thus had a greater capacity to act (cash equal to 11.2% of assets, compared to 8.2%).

Finally, Industry 4.0 companies were also found to be more evolved in terms of adopting strategies such as the presence of patents, certifications and trademarks, which they implement more broadly and intensively.