The concept of Economic Development 4.0 (German: Wirtschaftsförderung 4.0/Wf4.0) is designed to strengthen and expand regional economic infrastructure. Its main goal is to establish resilient business models and networks as well as initiatives and enterprises.
Important objectives of the concept are climate protection, the economic use of resources and the improvement of the regional common good. Specifically, Wf4.0 promotes:
Wf4.0 supports a variety of local initiatives and their innovative business models, which contribute to the economic, ecological and social stability of a region. Thus, it is more than corporate development. Using the city of Osnabruck as a pilot, the predecessor project Wf4.0 analysed and tested how respective business models can be strengthened in order to grow, become more popular, connect with others, and generate positive ecological, economic and social impact.
The follow-up project "Rollout Economic Development 4.0", funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), builds on the Wf 4.0 concept, which has been developed and successfully implemented in Osnabruck. It transfers the concept to the cities of Witten, Witzenhausen, and Wuppertal and at the same time consolidates it in Osnabruck itself. It thus facilitates the dissemination of expert knowledge and creates opportunities for sustainable urban development in three additional municipalities.
The experiences gained in the Wf4.0 pilot project (duration 2016-2019) will not simply be transferred, but be refined jointly with actors from business and administration by means of peer learning. The cities serve as real-world laboratories for the transfer and application of the concept. A research team at the Wuppertal Institute supports the urban actors.
By applying the concept to other cities and different regional and local circumstances, the project lays the foundation for further rolling out Wf4.0. With view to recent societal debates on actions that need to be taken following the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in the concept is likely to increase significantly: After all, Wf4.0 aims to strengthen "system-relevant" economic sectors and to provoke a renaissance of the regions.