The rise of the fourth industrial revolution (IR) is deeply embedded in a wider context of privatization of knowledge, rising costs of innovation and uneven distribution of capacity between countries. But debates on a ‘balanced’ policy framework to tackle these issues have until now floundered to address some of the fundamental dilemmas of our times. Will the fourth IR render the manufacturing-led model of economic development a thing of the past? Are there new boundaries for innovation and industry in the fourth IR? What should policy do in such an uncertain technological era?