Fourth Industrial Revolution

We are closing the gap between technology and policy

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Technology is disrupting every country and industry around the globe.

The impact.

Over the past four years, the World Economic Forum has brought together governments, businesses, startups and civil society into its Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) Network.

The network plays a vital role in shaping the governance of emerging technologies at a local, national and regional level. It promotes public-private collaboration in the development of policy frameworks and pilots new approaches to technology regulation and adoption to ensure it benefits people and the planet.

Headquartered in San Francisco, the network has centres in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Colombia, India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. It has also launched a thematic centre on the ocean, based in Norway.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

What's the challenge?

New technologies are affecting our lives in unanticipated ways as the Fourth Industrial Revolution extends digitization across industries.

Policies, norms and regulations have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

Knowledge and best practices relating to the governance and regulation of innovative technologies must be tested and shared globally by establishing collaborations between governments, private sector and experts.

While new technologies hold the promises for a bright future, we must ensure that their implementation is responsible, equitable and further supports a growing innovation ecosystem.

Our approach.

The C4IR Network develops, implements and scales up agile and human-centred pilot projects that can be adopted by policy-makers, legislators and regulators worldwide.

The following examples highlight how four network centres are building scalable models to positively pilot and integrate technology regulations in law and industry standards. More initiatives are being carried out by other centres around the world.

Brazil – Industrial IoT and Technology ​for Small and Medium Enterprises​

The Forum, Ministry of Economy of Brazil and Government of the State of Sao Paulo have developed a policy protocol to lower barriers for the adoption of industrial internet of things and other innovative technologies by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

It was initially piloted in 10 aerospace and automotive companies, but now reaches almost 2,000 companies across multiple industries.

The organizations that adopted the protocol saw a 12% increase in their operational efficiency and over 190% return on investment.

Brazil’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is now scaling up this project through the C4IR Network in Azerbaijan, Colombia, Turkey, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.


Rwanda – Cross-Border Data Flows

With advances in technological innovation and cross-border digital trade, adequate personal data protection legislation is essential to fully harnessing the benefits of the global digital economy while safeguarding the privacy of individuals.

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda has been working with the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation of Rwanda to develop its own Data Policy Law to place Rwanda at the forefront of international data protection standards. This is vital for a modern digital economy to facilitate services such as e-commerce, international financial transactions, and various online services.

The Chamber of Deputies of Rwanda has officially passed the law and it entered into effect on 15 October 2021. It will allow individuals and institutions to put in place the necessary processes to ensure organizations handle personal data in a trusted and secure manner.

"This law provides the necessary foundation to transform Rwanda into a data-empowered society, by ensuring all critical stakeholders, starting with government institutions, are attaining the gold standard in personal data protection and privacy."

Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation, Rwanda
Have you read?
  • How Rwanda’s vision for data and AI is revolutionizing its services and healthcare system

India – Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture Innovation (AI4AI)

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution India is working with the Indian Ministry of Agriculture, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog and Ministry of Electronics to capitalize on the potential of emerging technologies in agriculture, healthcare and urban planning.

For the agricultural initiative – Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture Innovation (AI4AI) – launched in 2020, the impact is particularly notable. Over 130 million smallholder and women farmers will be able to access finance solutions and sustainable practices through technology. The approach was scaled across India after over 7,000 chilli farmers in the Khammam district adopted digital solutions to improve their working practices.

technology regulation
Image: PwC

As well as agriculture, other vital sectors in India are undergoing transformation. Ten Indian cities were added to the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance in 2020, and advances in India’s cancer care were made in 2021 with the launch of FIRST Cancer Care, in partnership with Meghalaya state. That same year, India’s Ministry of Education, multiple state governments and 60 partners in the education industry sought to close gaps in education created by the COVID-19 pandemic through technology, with the Education 4.0 initiative.

Drones are also being used to deliver vaccines to remote and hard-to-reach areas in India through the Medicine From The Sky initiative. Around 5-10% of India's state-run healthcare centres are inaccessible due to location or natural disasters, and the drones are instrumental in improving access to vaccines.

All these initiatives have scaled significantly nationally and globally, with multiple state governments adopting the policy frameworks. Read more about the impact of C4IR India.

United Arab Emirates – Digital Assets and Tokenization​

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE is testing the application of tokenization to improve financial systems.

The centre has partnered with the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFC) and Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to help fintech companies develop and test the tokenization of digital assets through the use of blockchain to advance the future of finance.

C4IR UAE identified a number of industries (real estate, SME financing, venture capital and start-ups) in which digital assets and tokenization could substantially support finance and see practical implementation of digital assets.

The example of the UAE shows how tokenization can help avoid financial bottlenecks faced by SMEs, by providing a standardized and accessible approach to funding.

technology regulation
Which areas do you believe will be most impacted by tokenisation? | C4IR UAE Tokenisation and Digital Assets Survey of industry stakeholders

Ocean Data Platform

HUB Ocean is dedicated to the exchange of ocean data. The centre brings together leaders from global industry, research and international organizations to improve ocean health and productivity. Central to the work of unlocking the power of ocean data is the development of the Ocean Data Platform.

Developed in close collaboration with Cognite and Microsoft, the Ocean Data Platform is the first global, open-source, integrated data digital platform to pilot and support new tools that improve ocean health and productivity.

The platform engages some of the biggest research institutions and industries in the world and leverages Cognite Data Fusion and Microsoft’s cloud computing software. It can be used to track and reduce emissions in the shipping and oil and gas industries, enable flexible fisheries management and assess the impacts of offshore wind.


C4IR Ocean and Microsoft also lead the Ocean Action Data Coalition (ODAC). ODAC is the Ocean Panel’s task force, working to break down the barriers to ocean data sharing, develop business models that promote the unlocking of this data and dismantle the regulatory barriers to the exchange of ocean data.

"We need a globally shared ocean data revolution to save the ocean. The Ocean Data Action Coalition will be a substantial contributor to this revolution. At the core of the coalition is the Ocean Data Platform, which liberates and connects ocean data to enable better ocean management and solutions. Only the sharing and meaningful use of relevant data will ensure a healthy and productive ocean."

Øyvind Eriksen, President and CEO of Aker and chairman of C4IR Ocean

For more information on how the World Economic Forum and its partners shape the future of policy governance, visit:

How can you get involved?

We are looking for visionary leaders and innovators who want to join us in our mission to guide technological development in the interest of humanity.

By joining the C4IR Network, companies and governments can:

  • Co-design policy and governance protocols that accelerate the societal benefits of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and mitigate negative consequences
  • Increase understanding of new technologies and implement them faster through pilots
  • Increase their visibility as global leaders committed to using new technologies to benefit society
  • Connect with cutting-edge technology innovators

To learn more about business and government engagement opportunities, please contact us.

Join us today and help shape a better future
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Marco Aguilar
Marketing Communications Lead, World Economic Forum
Related topics:
Fourth Industrial RevolutionEmerging TechnologiesIndustries in DepthNature and BiodiversityGeographies in Depth
Join us today and help shape a better future
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