The article is devoted to the analysis of the conceptual apparatus of the category of high-tech industrial enterprises (HTIE) and identification of their functioning features. The high-tech industrial complex is the backbone of the national industrial complex in the era of the “fourth industrial revolution”. In this regard, high-tech industrial enterprises determine the development of the national economy of any state, so the problem of identifying this type of enterprise from the industrial one is relevant. The purpose of this study is to develop a reference model of a high-tech industrial enterprise. To do so, the authors aim to form the definition of high-tech enterprises, to determine their characteristics and criteria to classify enterprises into this type. Based on the analysis of existing research the authors propose a classification of high-tech industrial enterprises according to key criteria: in accordance with the level of intensity of innovative and scientific activities of enterprises. The authors characterize the groups of high-tech enterprises, for each has unique features and can be considered separately. The authors used the methods of categorical-system methodology: 1) the method of formal logic and 2) the method of two-level triadic decoding of the basic concept to form the definition of modern high-tech enterprise. The authors identified criteria by which a high-tech enterprise can be distinguished from the traditional one. In conclusion of this study, the authors developed a reference model of a high-tech enterprise, where the main differences are highlighted 1) the management system in terms of management objects and 2) the principles of functioning of this type of enterprise. The results of the study supplement and clarify the conceptual apparatus of the HTIE and can be used to further study the essence and features of the functioning of this type of enterprises, that will improve their efficiency and competitiveness.