The industrial strategies of the world’s leading industrial economies, as well as those of the European countries that stand out in terms of industrial output, have in common that there is a clear technological focus in the assessment of the situation, the setting of priorities and targets, and the toolbox: challenges, targets and proposed measures are essentially examined and defined in terms of digital technology opportunities, according to research conducted by the Digital Business Unit of Századvég Konjunktúrakutató at the end of 2023.


Our research sought to understand how industrial strategies in developed countries approach the challenges facing individual industries, what objectives are set in relation to these challenges, what fundamental aspects (sustainability, technological adaptation, geographical location, knowledge-based approach, etc.) are considered, and what instruments are assigned to each objective in order to maximise the contribution of (government) interventions to the development of the national economy of the country concerned.

The industrial strategies of the countries studied are based on two main logical frameworks. In one case, a high-level industrial strategy document or umbrella strategy sets the framework for strategic thinking. The industrial development programmes, action plans and project schedules to be implemented are subdivided under this and are based on the instruments set out in this umbrella document in order to achieve the objectives. In the other case, the state’s strategic planning documents do not provide a unified hierarchical system but form a kind of “patchwork” in which strategy-making is focused on specific key areas (e.g. technological development, industrial digitisation, Industry 4.0).

Common features of strategic thinking in leading industrialised countries

All the leading industrial countries covered by the analysis have a clear technological focus in their respective strategies, but the medium and long-term challenges and the interventions needed to address them naturally differ due to different structural, cultural or political circumstances.

In addition, due to the technology focus and the horizontal nature of digitisation, the sectoral approach is almost completely absent from the strategy documents examined, unlike the nature of the Hungarian industrial strategy documents. This is true for the situation assessment as well as for the target and instrument systems.

Despite the diversity of the strategies, industrial strategy priorities which, to a lesser or greater extent, are reflected in the situation assessments, the formulation of objectives and the development of instruments, can be identified in all the documents examined. These are the following

  • government, business and social commitment to support technological development,
  • strengthening resilience at country, sector and supply chain level,
  • retaining and increasing a high-quality and skilled workforce,
  • strong support for research, development and innovation (RDI) activities, and
  • stimulating private investment.

Offensive, defensive and inclusive strategic objectives

Basically, three types of targeting (offensive, defensive and inclusive) can be identified in the strategies studied, which are closely related to the motivation for strategy formulation and the assessment of the initial situation.

Countries claiming to be the leading industrial power in the entire economy or in a specific sector or sub-sector are breaking into the top of the competitiveness rankings. Their strategy is accordingly offensive (to catch up, to surpass, to take the lead).

In response to the challenge posed by the countries defining offensive targeting systems, the industrial powers currently in the lead typically set as a strategic goal the preservation of their existing position. Such comprehensive or industry-focused strategies include a defensive set of targets. In addition, the strategic objectives of leading industrial economies often include a third element. In many cases, their industrial strategies also include objectives that focus on harnessing the benefits of their achievements for the benefit of society, or on solving or alleviating some of the major societal problems (such as the digital divide). Such target systems are made up of inclusive targets.

The above common industrial strategy elements are illustrated in the figure below.

As shown in the figure, the technological focus is central to the industrial strategies: this conceptual approach is reflected in all the strategy documents examined. Without a quality data infrastructure, high-capacity wired and wireless networks, and the integration of the most advanced digital solutions built on them, the modern industrial ecosystem cannot develop, function and evolve properly.

The strategies developed in this research give priority to technologies in the field of industrial digitisation for shaping industrial performance and competitiveness, which are:

  • basic digital technologies: data and networks (e.g. IoT, 5G, cloud);
  • artificial intelligence (AI);
  • blockchain (blockchain);
  • nanotechnology;
  • robotics, other Industry 4.0 solutions;
  • AR, VR.

As outlined above, the heart of the new industrial ecosystem is the digital integration of data collection, data transfer, data integration and data analytics, and the introduction of increasingly automated, flexible and resilient manufacturing systems based on this.

Common features of European industrial digitisation initiatives

The general experience of European industrial digitisation initiatives, sometimes strategically driven, sometimes based on closer or looser cooperation between sectoral, public and/or academic actors, is as follows:

  • the starting point is a common one; industry can only gain a sustainable competitive advantage by exploiting the potential of digitisation.
  • ongoing dialogue and knowledge sharing between the state, business associations, industry, academia, trade unions and civil society is a prerequisite for identifying and exploiting the opportunities offered by industrial digitisation technologies.
  • technological development and adaptation should be encouraged by all available means. In terms of industrial digital transformation, the key technologies are essentially the same as those that are strategic priorities for leading industrial economies (IoT, cloud computing, AI, AR/VR, blockchain, automation and robotics, developments in digital manufacturing).
  • industrial digitisation processes are putting unprecedented value on education and training in innovative technologies, the necessary competences and the availability of appropriate human resources.
  • a bottom-up approach is the best way to implement an industrial digitisation programme; for a targeted and successful strategic intervention, the process needs to start with a needs assessment.
  • when setting industrial digitisation targets, it is very important to integrate SMEs and start-ups into public policy, regulatory and support instruments and to enable them to connect to sectoral and global value chains. Due to their size and resource characteristics, these actors are ill-prepared for rapid technological change.
• Methodology

The following methodological elements were applied in the preparation of the study:


Secondary sources


To analyse the situation, present the area and identify national and international trends:

  • a systematic processing of Hungarian and international industrial development strategies (institutional policy context, strategic conditionality, technology-focused measures);
  • traditional processing of international and Hungarian specific industrial strategies (vision, challenges, objectives and areas of intervention, proposed actions).