United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)


UNIDO is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.

Description of Activities on AI

As a leading UN agency with a mandate to foster inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID), UNIDO leads the way in addressing opportunities, challenges and risks stemming from the 4IR and how these can affect inclusive and sustainable industrial and economic development. The Organization aims to enable a smooth transformation towards the 4IR for countries with different levels of economic development, ensuring that no one is left behind. Making the 4IR work for all should be the key driver of technological development policy and action.

Project 1: Strengthening Industry 4.0 technologies in Morocco

During the 2017 UNIDO General Conference it was announced that Morocco would be the first Arab nation to participate in the organization’s flagship initiative – the Programme for Country Partnerships. The PCP is UNIDO’s innovative model for accelerating inclusive and sustainable industrial development and attainment of SDG 9 in Member States. High impact industrial development is achieved through the PCP via the alignment with national development agenda goals and focus on sectors with high growth potential. A key characteristic of the PCP is the emphasis placed on multi-stakeholder partnership led by the host government – to promote synergistic industrial development. Further, the PCP has been designed to leverage additional investment in selected priority sectors. As such, it facilitates the mobilization of partners and resources to achieve larger development impact. The Kingdom of Morocco informed UNIDO that the PCP should focus on the following areas: a) Agro-value chain development; b) Industrial Parks; c) Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency; d) Industry 4.0; e) E-commerce.

Project 2: Quality Infrastructure for Trade Facilitation (QI4TF) Toolkit builds on AI to prioritize technical interventions

The Quality Infrastructure for Trade Facilitation (QI4TF) Toolkit was developed by UNIDO with the support of BMZ (the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development). It helps countries to systematically identify technical gaps to improve the quality infrastructure system (QIS) required to facilitate trade through the application of an electronic toolkit (e-tool). The e-tool is applied in a workshop setting with stakeholders from industry and government. These stakeholders first have to identify gaps within their QIS that hinder trade facilitation and subsequently agree on the prioritization of key activities.

The e-tool has a total of 93 questions, which have 6 possible choices as a response. This means that the variables and possible combinations of responses are millions. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms will make it easier to analyze these responses at a faster rate and prioritize them, so that industry and government stakeholders can know what the most important gap is in terms of improving quality infrastructure for trade facilitation. As a result, the stakeholders are able to identify the actions needed to bridge these gaps, and so develop a consensus-built roadmap to plan and kick-start actions that will allow the smooth flow of goods across borders. Every single time the e-tool is applied data is generated and analyzed, the proposed AI algorithm aims to learn to mimic human behavior and becomes more adept at prioritizing the activities needed to improve quality infrastructure for trade facilitation. The result is that decision-making at the government and industry level becomes easier.

Project implementation started in March 2017 and the project was completed in January 2020. A programme concept was developed to scale the e-tool further to incorporate machine learning and big data.

Project 3: Accelerating industrial development in select sectors through Industry 4.0

Developing countries and economies in transition must be made aware of implications and challenges related to this paradigm shift, and India is no different. Several companies in developing countries, including in India, have started full or partial implementation of Industry 4.0. However, such implementation is fraught with challenges, both in terms of macro- and meso-level conditions that need to be in place, which include, amongst others, industrial policies, hard and soft infrastructure, support institutions, appropriately skilled labour, sufficient flow of innovation and investment, as well as, at the micro-level, preparedness of industries themselves. Additionally, there are implications and challenges for Indian industry as a result of implementation of Industry 4.0 in advanced economies, namely, how it impacts global value chains, competitiveness and jobs in India. Other consequences relate to reversed flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and a further manifestation of an already widening technology gap.

Consequently, in order to address the afore mentioned the overall objective of the proposed project is to accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development of the automotive and textile sectors through adoption of Industry 4.0, and thereby contribute to increased productivity and competitiveness. An immediate objective of the project is to prepare these the automotive and textile sectors for implementation of Industry 4.0, as well as for the implications of other countries’ implementation of the same.

Project 4: Leveraging the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in the Philippines

The project builds the blocks that allow for better understanding the requirements for the successful uptake of 4IR technologies (such as IAI) and business models in the Philippines’ industrial sector context. To this end, the project assesses preparedness of the Philippines industry for uptake of 4IR technologies focusing on food, automotive, semi-conductor, electronics and aerospace industrial sector; develops roadmaps for industrial upgrading and modernization through the uptake of 4IR technologies in the selected industrial sectors; builds the industrial innovation ecosystem in food, automotive, semi-conductor, electronics and aerospace industrial sector; prepares feasibility study for pilot, demonstration and learning factory; establishes an academy and innovation center for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with focus on the above-mentioned priority industries, and produces and roll out an 4IR awareness and capacity building program for government officials and staff, industry associations and business development services providers.

Project 5: Leveraging the potential of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies for smart manufacturing and ISID in Belarus

The Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus requested UNIDO to develop a project to promote innovation and smart manufacturing through establishing demonstration and innovation centers for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies in three regions of the Republic of Belarus: Brest, Vitebsk and Mogilev. In response to the request and in the framework of the preparatory assistance (PA) phase, UNIDO developed a project to establish a pilot demonstration and innovation center for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies and business models in the Brest region of Belarus. The Brest 4IR Demonstration and Innovation Center (BDIC) will support SMEs ‘smart manufacturing technological learning and innovation and will involve beneficiaries from the Vitebsk and Mogilev regions, as well as representatives from other countries in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The BDIC is expected to evolve into an innovation hub, promoting effective interactions between national and regional governments, industry and academia and fostering regional innovation system and business ecosystem development.

Project 6: Promoting smart manufacturing through innovation system building in Serbia

The Ministry of Innovation and Technological Development of the Government of Serbia, in its letter of 24 October 2019, requested UNIDO to explore the opportunities and modalities of cooperation to accelerate the digital transformation of Serbian society through innovation and technological development. Following funds mobilization efforts and consultations with the Government of Slovenia and the Slovene Enterprise Fund on 5th December 2019 and 29th January 2020, the Slovenian Government expressed its interest to fund this technical cooperation project. In consultation with representatives of University of Belgrade, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Manufacturing Engineering; the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Technical Sciences and the Ministry of Innovation and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia on the above government request to UNIDO, this project document was developed.

The project objective is fostering smart manufacturing in Serbia through building innovation and business ecosystems for uptake (adopt, adapt and diffuse) of advanced digital technologies and materials, and for enhancing manufacturing competitiveness.

Project 7: Building the capacity for the uptake of Industry 4.0 in Vietnam

The overall purpose of the intended project is to assist the Government of Viet Nam (GoV) to build the capacity to prepare for Industry 4.0. This will include preparation of the manufacturing sector (micro) as well as its macro and meso level support institutions. Preparation involves the country’s own adoption of Industry 4.0 and its ability to react and act on implementation of Industry 4.0 globally. Suitable manufacturing sectors for capacity building will be identified during the fact-finding mission. Moreover, the intended project purports to identify the new required worker profile and address the need for re-training and re-skilling of workers, as well as provision of relevant training, in identified manufacturing sectors.

Project 8: Strengthening capacity for operation and maintenance with Internet of Things technologies for Olkaria geothermal power station complex in Kenya

Kenya has one of the largest geothermal potential for electricity production in the region, yet, the country faces serious barriers that hinder the exploitation of geothermal resources. Among the most commonly recognized there are long gestation period, capital intensity and high risk in exploration phase. There is also a vast potential for improvements of energy management and applications of innovative, advanced technologies in order to increase access to stable electricity, improve operations of existing installations as well as enhancing local and institutional capacities. Management of the facility including reservoir management constitutes the foundation of the operations of a geothermal power plant. In the case of geothermal power station complex, introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) technology has a significant potential to improve its efficiency and lead to direct improvement of the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) capabilities.

Challenges and Opportunities


To the organization is the exponential progress of 4IR technological change. Keeping up with technological developments during the design and implementation phases of a project is a challenging task every time a new request is being submitted.


Make those challenges worth the effort. Digital maturity and 4IR maturity and readiness in general, are well received where use cases are established and demonstrated. The follow up demand for continuous improvement on a technology and equipment level, are testimony to the topical work UNIDO provides.

Related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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