EU backs $100M Industry 5.0 fund

  • February 2, 2023
  • William Payne

In cooperation with the European Commission, venture capital fund Momenta has launched a $100 million capital fund for Industry 5.0 in Europe and North America. The cooperation marks a cooling on Industry 4.0 and a pivot towards a new Industry 5.0 vision within the EU’s governing body.

The Industry 5.0 Fund will support entrepreneurs in the EU, EFTA, the UK, the United States and Canada develop new Industry 5.0 technologies, methods, approaches and sustainable industry operations.

The pivot towards Industry 5.0 in Europe has been accelerated by the COVID crisis, requirements for greater sustainability, and international tensions in Europe and Asia that have undermined many assumptions of EU trade and industrial policy.

As originally conceived within Germany, Industrie 4.0 was accompanied by Arbeit 4.0, an agenda for a retrained and reskilled workforce.

The European Commission however now believes that in practice Industry 4.0 adoption neglected human aspects of workforce involvement, with a focus on technology. Even Arbeit 4.0 neglected the wider societal impacts of automation. Moreover, as Net Zero, green sustainability and the move to create sustainable and stable supply chains have grown, particularly with crisis in Ukraine and growing tensions in the Asia Pacific, the European Commission has adopted a new strategy that places a greater focus on the role of society, human work, Net Zero, and building sustainable continental, shock-proof supply chains.

A key figure in the development of the new approach is European Commission Acting Head of Unit, Industry 5.0, Sean O’Reagain who speaking in Barcelona this week said: “We want to future-proof industry by making sure it chimes with our green deal industry plan and our net zero targets. Industry 4.0 was all about capitalising on productivity improvements, but Industry 5.0 must be human-centric, resilient and support sustainability efforts. Workers must be at the centre of Industry 5.0 development, which must take account of their welfare, and they must be seen as an investment not a cost.”

Aimed at early growth stage innovators driving digital transformation of energy, manufacturing, smart spaces, and supply chains, the Industry 5.0 Fund will provide venture capital investment to entrepreneurs headquartered across the EU, EFTA, UK, US, and Canada. Momenta will provide its network and expertise as well to investments. Previous investments by Momenta include: industrial data platforms ThingWorx, acquired by PTC; PLAT.ONE, acquired by SAP; and predictive maintenance platform Senseye, acquired by Siemens.

“The launch of the Industry 5.0 fund, our fifth venture capital fund since 2012, expands our focus from digital technologies that drive industry productivity to those that drive societal and environmental impact.,” said Momenta founding partner Ken Forster. “We will continue to partner with technology companies that advance industry forward, driving economic growth balanced by greater human-centricity and reduced environmental impact.”

“This new fund places us in a stronger position to advance the key challenge facing reshoring initiatives in the US and EU while continuing to create value for our investors,” said Momenta Managing Partner Michael Dolbec. “Given the intense interest in regaining manufacturing expertise, it’s an ideal time to be doubling down on Momenta’s commitment to this field.”

Founded in 2012, Momenta has made over 100 investments across four funds devoted to the digitalisation of energy, manufacturing, smart spaces, and supply chain. Portfolio companies include manufacturing optimisation platforms Litmus, Raven, and Smartex; industrial digital infrastructure solutions Edge Impulse, Expeto, and Xage; and autonomous mobility enablers Agtonomy, EquipmentShare, and Fixposition.