A successful Call to Action. Back to the Future in Manufacturing

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A successful Call to Action. Back to the Future in Manufacturing

Alberto Ribolla,
President, World Manufacturing Foundation


When, early in May 2020, we launched within our partner network the “Back to the Future: Manufacturing Beyond Covid-19” call to action, the response was immediately great.

The outbreak effects had already stretched out to all 5 continents. Measures such as lockdown and the use of face-masks were becoming common thread. The impact on the economy was getting evident with prospects of a high reduction of GDPs. Societal habits were on the change due to the new regulations that governments were imposing to societal, transportation, industrial, education ecosystems. The feeling, fear and awareness that nothing was going to be the same were widespread. The need to anticipate the impact of this New Normal on our lives was hence the spark that set us forth.


1 Call to Action

The purpose of the call to action was to mobilise first and foremost our Partners and other players from different geographies and sectors – industrial, academy and policy – to let their voices be heard on this globally relevant topic and on its impact on the manufacturing sector and beyond, by tackling 4 key macro-themes.




4 Macro-Themes
13 Focus Groups

As a first result to the call to action, 13 renowned practitioners – company managers, researchers and professors – from our partner network accepted to take on the lead role. They themselves then invited and gathered other colleagues, experts, young researchers, entrepreneurs, civil servants from their own networks and beyond, to discuss from multifaceted perspectives the 4 key macro-themes, to be deployed further into 13 different sub-topics (see full project presentation here).


Discover more about Back to the Future: Manufacturing Beyond Covid-19

Over 160 Participants

All together, thanks to the joint effort of the 13 Group Leaders, we now have over 160 participants involved in the project. The break down picture shows that they belong to:

  • 40% Companies and Industrial Associations
  • 35% Academia and Research
  • 7% Government
  • 18% NGOs, International Organisations, and Others

Gender representation is the following: 70% Male, 30% Female.

More than 30 nationalities represented

  • 28% Italy
  • 36% Other Europe
  • 36% Extra-EU

13 Focus Group Whitepapers

As outputs of the work the 13 Focus Groups are performing, during the months June through September 2020, there are 13 Whitepapers. One for each thematic group. Questions at stake: How is the manufacturing ecosystem reacting to specific critical issues due to this transformative situation? What are the lessons learned, best practices and recommendations to stimulate future courses of actions in a post-COVID 19 manufacturing paradigm? How do post-pandemic best practices and developments impact the evolution of manufacturing?

1 Comprehensive Whitepaper

The 13 thematic Whitepapers will be then recollected in a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary Whitepaper, to be edited by the Foundation, under the supervision of Prof. Marco Taisch, our Scientific Chairman. The goal is to highlight how the various areas of the globe are planning the New Normal, pointing out the specific critical issues and best practices adopted, with a focus on manufacturing as the main enabler for post-crisis reconstruction and development.

The Forum 2020

A presentation and discussion of the results brought about by the Whitepaper “Back to the Future: Manufacturing beyond Covid-19” is due during the World Manufacturing Forum 2020. Thank you to all the Group Leaders and the involved practitioners for their efforts. We are looking forward to sharing the results with a wider audience, within the manufacturing sector and beyond.