By Bernd Rohde, CEO of Hannover Fairs México
Five years ago, at one of his TED Talks, Bill Gates spoke about the Ebola crisis in Africa. The world, he said “is not prepared for the next epidemic,” adding that “if something has the capacity to end the lives of thousands of people in the future decade it will be a highly infectious virus. Not war, but a virus.”
It seems that time has come. Indubitably, one of our greatest allies in the battle against COVID-19 is industry, namely Industry 4.0. According to a survey conducted among high-ranking executives by The Economist Intelligence Unit, of all existing industries, the health sector will be the one to benefit most from Industry 4.0. As the World Economic Forum (WEF) describes it, Industry 4.0 is the greatest industrial milestone of all time, whose innovations are blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. As such, it is an invaluable opportunity for CONCAMIN and its members.
According to MIT, as we speak, several companies are working on new test kits that can detect COVID-19 in just minutes, compared to the 24 hours it takes to process the tests currently in use. The new kits could be used, for example, to test passengers arriving at airports and the findings could be shared with the local health authorities in real time via cloud technology. The new kits could be used, for example, to test passengers arriving at airports and the findings could be shared with the local health authorities in real time via cloud technology. This same information could be used to develop advanced automated learning models to predict the future movement of COVID-19 through different geographies. Imagine if Mexico could come up with an even more sophisticated innovation!
Another recently launched initiative announced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset project, also known as CORD-19, which has the capacity to analyze thousands of scientific documents on the coronavirus, including the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, using a combination of language processing and artificial intelligence technologies. The goal is to help researchers sift through and better understand the growing body of academic papers on the coronavirus in as short a timeframe as possible.
We saw an example of so-called “mobile health” in action in South Korea, which tested over 200,000 of its citizens and used smart phones to monitor and trace the movement of patients that tested positive, and anticipate and prevent the spread of infections in real time.
In all these projects, the public sector, academia and industry have actively worked together to come up with solutions. As CONCAMIN President Francisco Cervantes has said, “industry is the epicenter of progress around which health, education and technology converge.”
Historically, we know that pandemics have given rise to new categories of businesses and accelerated innovation and entrepreneurship, but they also create the ideal circumstances for synergies between the triple helix. So what can we expect to see in Mexico in the near future? Government and companies rapidly migrating to a digital environment, most likely a surge in e-commerce and, hopefully, the implementation of the kind of industrial policy the country needs, with the support of the federal government and with goals, programs, instruments and resources that enable CONCAMIN and its members to create timely solutions to address the challenge at hand and those we will face in the future.
These and other Industry 4.0-related topics will be addressed at Industrial Transformation Mexico, the Latin American chapter of Hannover Messe, which will take place on October 7-9, 2020, at Poliforum León, Guanajuato. For more information log on to: https://industrialtransformation.mx/