Innopharma Event Hears From International Expert On The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” And The Changing World Of Work.


Ireland needs to prioritise investment in upskilling to ensure our pharma and biopharma sectors continue to grow throughout the “fourth industrial revolution”. That’s according to Henrik von Scheel, as he delivered the keynote address at an event hosted by Innopharma in Dublin this morning (04.12.19).

Mr. von Scheel – who is based in Zurich – is internationally renowned as the originator of the Industry 4.0 concept: the idea that we are currently living through a fourth industrial revolution, which merges the digital, virtual and physical worlds with colliding trends that bring about paradigm shifts.

Addressing an audience of pharma and biopharma leaders today, he said:

“In its scale, scope and complexity, Industry 4.0 fundamentally alters the way we live, work, consume, our economy, and how we relate to one another. It is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. It disrupts every aspect of our lives, society and industries – in every country.

“Industry 4.0 has had profound impacts on the world of work. At its heart are developments in areas such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing, quantum computing, blockchain, 6G communication, and the Internet of Things. In this context, the skills that are highly sought after by employers are changing rapidly, and workforces need to adapt quickly to rapid technological change. The countries that aren’t quick enough to recognise the opportunities – and fail to adapt quickly by upskilling their workforces – will be left behind in the years to come.”

On his first visit to Ireland today, Mr. von Scheel highlighted the importance of responsive education and training to meet future demand for highly skilled workers.

“The fourth industrial revolution is not about technology, it’s about people and how people connect, how they work together,” he said. “Productivity, automation, innovation – yes, these things are central to Industry 4.0, but we cannot achieve anything without first investing in our people to equip them with the essential skills.”

Innopharma and BioPharmaChem Ireland

Innopharma, Ireland’s leading education, research and technology institute for the pharmaceutical, medtech and food industries, partnered with BioPharmaChem Ireland, a business association within Ibec that represents the biopharma and chemical sectors, to run today’s event.

Commenting today, Dr. Ian Jones, founder and CEO of the Innopharma Group, said the event aimed to highlight the opportunities that exist for Ireland within the rapidly changing biopharma industry.

“There is a lot of scaremongering at present about how machines could replace people, and how automation will obliterate entire industries,” he said. “We organised today’s event to challenge these fears and to demonstrate the huge opportunities that exist for Ireland’s high-tech manufacturing sectors if we position ourselves at the forefront of the next period of industrial growth. To do so, we need a highly educated and skilled workforce with competencies in areas such as data analysis, machine learning, process technologies and lean six sigma.

“Ireland has a unique role to play in the future development of the global biopharma industry. We are the eighth largest exporter of medicinal and pharmaceutical products in the world, with 75 leading companies operating here. It is estimated that 85,000 additional positions could be created in Ireland in this sector over the next five years. If we fail to invest in upskilling our workforce now, we will miss out on this huge opportunity in future years.”

Position Paper for Government

Today’s event brought together leading employers, policymakers and training providers to discuss the future skills needs of Ireland’s pharma and biopharma sectors.

“Our aim today was to gather the most influential people in this sector, to thrash out how we can ensure Ireland continues to be a world leader in pharma and biopharma in the years to come,” said Dr. Jones. “We will be developing a position paper based on the discussions at today’s event, and we plan to present this to government early in the New Year.”

Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility for Higher Education, delivered the opening address at today’s event. The event also featured a panel discussion, with contributions from:

Orla Callan, Education Programme Director, Innopharma;
Dr. Vivienne Patterson, Head of Skills and Engagement with the Higher Education Authority;
Erik O’Donovan, Head of Digital Economy Policy at Ibec; and
David C. Hegarty, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Further details about the event can be found at


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