The rise of Industry 4.0 in 5 stats

In short

  • A look at five key statistics shows that Industry 4.0 activity has risen since 2011, with COVID-19 and the 2022 slowdown presenting recent bumps on the road.
  • The analysis considered five indicators: Public search interest, academic papers, start-up funding, M&A activity, and enterprise adoption.

Why it matters

  • Increasing activity in Industry 4.0 will likely lead to increased investment in related technology and projects.

More than 10 years after its creation, it seems that Industry 4.0 is in full swing: Public search interest has risen 140 times since then, 50,000 research papers were published on the topic in 2021 alone, start-ups are now receiving a total of $3 billion in funding each year (Q3 2021 to Q3 2022), and M&A activity has doubled.

The term “Industry 4.0” was first publicly introduced at Hannover Fair 2011 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who (as rumor has it) picked up the term, sparking a number of interesting discussions as a result. (You can read our 2022 Hannover Fair analysis here.)

What first started as a vague concept to revolutionize manufacturing through “cyber-physical systems” has since taken shape.

Some of the key advances since 2011 include:

  • Much more powerful chipsets
  • Widespread adoption of cloud services
  • Containerization of software
  • Creation of much-improved software middleware/tools
  • Open interfaces to edge computing hardware
  • New and improved communication standards/protocols
  • Availability of relevant AI models and libraries

Few of these were obvious 10 years ago.

“Industry 4.0” Definition

The use of modern I4.0 tech stack elements, or specific supporting technologies that enable manufacturers to integrate various data sources, achieve higher OEE, reduce costs, or improve other KPIs relevant to a production setup (manufacturing of goods, mining, oil, and gas) mostly in conjunction with rolling out new or improved use cases.

Here is a look at five key stats that show how “Industry 4.0” activity has changed since 2011:

#1 Public search interest: 140 times higher

Searches for Industry 4.0 on Google in 2022 are 140 times higher compared to the year it was first introduced and made public (2011). In addition, related terms such as Industrial IoT and Smart Manufacturing grew quite fast in the same time frame as well (32 times and 3.5 times more searches respectively).


Industry 4.0 is an umbrella term that describes several advances in the manufacturing industry. The below picture shows how four of the supporting technologies for Industry 4.0 have also risen in popularity in the same time frame:

Industry 4.0 technologies search interest from 2011 to 2022

Search interests for “Cobots” increased more than 10 times since 2011, “Additive Manufacturing” almost nine times, “Digital Twin” more than four times, and “Machine Vision” 1.3 times. These supporting technologies are also representative of the interest in several other Industry 4.0-related technologies. (Note: IoT Analytics is set to publish reports on Digital Twin and Machine Vision in the coming weeks.)

#2 Academic papers: 200,000+ papers published

More than 50,000 academic papers on Industry 4.0 were released in 2020 and 2021, and more than 200,000 have been published in total within the last 10 years. It is safe to say that a lot of research is being done on Industry 4.0. One of these ideas can be the “next big thing” that will move the topic forward.

Academic research papers mentioning Industry 4.0

Based on Google Scholar, the three most cited papers relating to Industry 4.0 are:

TitlePublishing yearNumber of citationsJournalKey authors
#1Industry 4.020144167Business & Information Systems EngineeringLasi, Heiner, et al.
#2Industry 4.0: State of the art and future trends20182185Intl. Journal of Production ResearchXu, Li Da, Eric L. Xu, and Ling Li
#3Industry 4.0 technologies: Implementation patterns in manufacturing companies20191466Intl. Journal of Production EconomicsFrank, Alejandro Germán, Lucas Santos Dalenogare, and Néstor Fabián Ayala

#3 Funding: 2,513 deals since 2011

The annual funding of start-ups that are active in Industry 4.0 has increased by +319% from 2011 to 2021. 2021 saw a total of $2.2 billion of funding spent on upcoming companies that develop technology related to Industry 4.0. A total of 2,513 deals were announced in the 11-year time frame. The total number of funding rounds decreased when COVID-19 hit in 2020 and has also taken a hit as of late with the inflation and war-related slowdown.

Funding of startups from 2011 to 2022

Notable investment rounds included a $179 million Series A for BrightMachines in 2018, a $100 million Series C for Tulip Interfaces in 2021, and a $75 million Series E in Xometry in 2020.

#4 M&A activity: Doubled from 2011 to 2021

The annual number of Industry 4.0-related acquisitions reached a peak of 132 in 2021. This marks a 116% increase in the past 10 years. In the first three quarters of 2020, there were less than half acquisitions compared to the usual average in the rest of the years. COVID-19 had a clear impact on the M&A activity as well.

Industry 4.0 related acquisitions from 2011 to 2022

Notable acquisitions included AspenTech acquired by Emerson for $11 billion in 2021, Fetch Robotics acquired by Zebra Technologies for $290 million in 2021, and IQMS acquired by Dassault Systèmes for $425 million in 2018.

#5 Enterprise adoption: Most organizations now have an Industry 4.0 strategy

A 2015 World Economic Forum survey of 250 market leaders found that 88% of the participants did not understand the underlying business models and long-term implications of the industrial IoT to their industries.

A 2019 Industry 4.0 adoption survey by IoT Analytics showed that the situation had changed with 25% of Industry 4.0 use cases already fully or extensively rolled out with enterprises on a global level.

The latest 2022 Industry 4.0 adoption survey now shows that companies have even further advanced. Companies that are not executing against an Industry 4.0 strategy are in the minority. A staggering 72% of the survey respondents report that they are in the process of implementing their Industry 4.0/Smart Factory with many initiatives in progress and some already completed.

More detailed Industry 4.0 adoption statistics

Industry 40 Adoption Report Product Icon

Industry 4.0 Adoption Report 2022

The latest 217-page adoption report contains a number of useful statistics on the current and future status of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing.

Download the sample to learn more about the report structure, companies included, and see additional data points.

    First name*

    Last name*

    Company email address*




    Which specific insights are you interested in?(Optional)


    I agree that IoT Analytics GmbH may use the information submitted in the above form to contact me regarding my specific request and provide me with future research updates. I understand that I may opt out of future research updates at any time by contacting IoT Analytics at info (at) By clicking below, you agree that IoT Analytics may process your information in accordance with the above terms. For more information about IoT Analytics’ privacy practices, please refer to the privacy statement on the main website.

    The report, which is based on the feedback of 500 decision-makers in manufacturing organizations, answers questions such as:

    • What smart factory KPIs are most important to manufacturers?
    • What are the most adopted Industry 4.0 use cases for operations and products?
    • Who are the decision-makers in Industry 4.0 projects?
    • What are some of the skill gaps that inhibit manufacturers from moving from proof of concept to commercial deployment?
    • How do manufacturers procure software, and where do they host it?
    • How do manufacturers plan to purchase software in the next three years?
    • Where do companies run key workloads?
    • What kind of vendors are most often involved in Industry 4.0 projects?
    • What are the most common techniques to secure the shop floor?
    • How do manufacturers secure connected products?

    Related publications

    You may be interested in the following publications:

    Related articles

    You may also be interested in the following recent articles:

    Related market data

    You may be interested in the following IoT market data products:

    Are you interested in continued IoT coverage and updates?

    Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest trends shaping the IoT markets. For complete enterprise IoT coverage with access to all of IoT Analytics’ paid content & reports including dedicated analyst time check out the Enterprise subscription.

    Share this with others:

    <a href="" target="_self">Dimitris Paraskevopoulos</a>

    Dimitris Paraskevopoulos

    Dimitris is part of the Data and Software Applications team. Dimitris focuses on IoT applications and quantitative analysis. He has a background in mechatronics and mechanical engineering.

    IoT Research Newsletter

    Sign up for our exclusive email updates today, and receive the latest market insights before others.

    IoT Analytics, founded and operating out of Germany, is a leading provider of strategic IoT market insights and a trusted advisor for 1000+ corporate partners worldwide.

    Learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals faster with the right data-driven insights and intelligence.