Many European Union (EU) Member States are adapting their innovation systems to face the challenges brought by the fourth industrial revolution. At the same time, the European Commission is supporting cutting-edge research in the technological areas that characterise it, with the objectives of promoting excellence but also reducing regional research and innovation disparities. Little is known about the actual capacity of European countries and regions to compete in the domain of Industry 4.0 by developing and integrating different enabling technologies, simply because detailed data on technologies are scarce.
On the basis of information extracted from industrial research projects financed by Horizon 2020, the 8th Framework Programme for research and innovation, this paper provides an analysis of the geography of knowledge production in Europe and investigates the comparative advantages of countries and regions as well as their technological specialisation. An emphasis is given to the identification of the factors that are typically associated with the regional capacity to integrate Industry 4.0 enabling technologies and the centrality of regions in European research networks.