Europe now represents 30 per cent of the global market for smart manufacturing and factory automation and is ahead of the U.S, claims a new report.

Described as the latest re-incarnation of the “Smart Enterprise Wave”, smart manufacturing adds layers of software, AI, and IoT to existing advanced manufacturing robotics.

Smart Manufacturing: The Rise of the Machines reveals that Europe’s smart manufacturing market is valued at $24bn – ahead of the United States, at $20bn – with companies emerging within Smart Factories, IOT and digital design, simulation and integration.

Tech advisory and investment firm GP Bullhound, which published the report, said Europe had seen growth in the number of funding rounds related to smart manufacturing in recent years, reaching a high of 17 transactions in 2017, a fivefold growth since 2013.

The report also found that the global smart manufacturing sector is generating an immense volume of investment, receiving over $6.7 billion of venture and growth funding in 2018 - a 14-fold increase on the $0.5 billion invested in 2013.

On a global scale, the shareholder value creation opportunity from smart manufacturing is predicted to be in the $2.0 trillion range.

“Europe’s smart manufacturing capabilities have undergone continuous growth, with an increased number of funding rounds and as an important consolidation target for U.S. and Asian players,” commented Dr Nikolas Westphal, director at GP Bullhound.

“Smart manufacturing is the future and ultimately, we believe that automating repetitive tasks will enable us to concentrate on those qualities that set us apart from machines and algorithms: being and acting human. Europe is an important global hub in this segment.”

The report also highlights that China is the global cluster most quickly catching up on innovation in smart manufacturing.

Data collected from 2016 shows China spent more on overall research and development ($396bn) than Europe ($322bn) and almost as much as the U.S. ($403bn) in absolute terms, translating into the highest percentage of GDP among these four world regions.