The new High-Tech Strategy – understanding what belongs together.

The new High-Tech Strategy stands for the aim of moving Germany forward on its way to becoming a worldwide innovation leader. The goal is for good ideas to be translated quickly into innovative products and services. This is because innovative solutions are the factors that drive our prosperity and support our quality of life. They strengthen Germany's position as a leading industrial and exporting nation. And they make it possible to find creative answers to the urgent challenges of our time – including challenges in such areas as sustainable urban development, environmentally friendly energy, individualised medicine and the digital society.

The High-Tech Strategy is now being developed further, as a comprehensive, interdepartmental innovation strategy. To that end, we are adding new topics and introducing new instruments for funding innovation. We are emphasising an expanded concept of innovation that includes not only technological innovation but also social innovation – and that includes society as a central player. We are looking at the big picture and conceptually putting those things together that really belong together. We are continuing the upward trend that has been taking place in investments in research and development.

The five pillars of our innovative strength:

1. We are prioritising future challenges relative to prosperity and quality of life.

With the new High-Tech Strategy, we are establishing thematic priorities in research and innovation. In the process, we are concentrating on areas that feature especially dynamic innovation and that hold potential for economic growth and prosperity. And we are concentrating on areas in which we can help address global challenges and thereby enhance the quality of life for everyone.

Our six priority tasks relative to future prosperity and quality of life are as follows:

  • The digital economy and society – with innovative solutions, we are addressing the challenges inherent in digital technologies, and we are seeking to use opportunities for value creation and prosperity in Germany.
  • The sustainable economy and energy – the manner in which we produce and consume needs to become more resource-efficient, environmentally friendly and socially compatible. In short, it needs to become more sustainable.
  • The innovative workplace – we are focusing on the profound changes taking place in the modern workplace, since good jobs are an important basis for creative ideas and economic innovation.
  • Healthy living – we are strengthening research aimed at helping people live healthy, active and independent lives.
  • Intelligent mobility – we are pursuing research in support of integrated transport policies that optimise the different modes of transport in terms of their efficiency, capability and interactions.
  • Civil security – complex systems and infrastructures – for example, for energy supply, communications, mobility and logistics – need to work properly in the everyday lives of people.

2. We are consolidating resources and promoting transfer.

Innovations occur at the interfaces between different disciplines, topics and perspectives. We thus plan to strengthen cooperation between companies, universities and research institutions, to bring such organisations together with international partners and to continually expand existing cooperation arrangements. To those ends, we will use new measures to strategically expand universities' options for cooperation with industry and society, to close gaps in commercialisation and to advance internationalisation of leading-edge clusters, core projects and other, comparable networks.

3. We are strengthening the dynamism of innovation in industry.

We are promoting the development of a competitive, employment-strong industry whose products and services are fully competitive with the products and services of the most innovative competitors worldwide. To that end, we plan to use the potential inherent in key technologies, for the benefit of industry – for example, the great potential of microelectronics and battery technologies. We plan to expand the group of companies that participate in programmes for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by making the funding conditions for such companies even more user-friendly. We want to increase the numbers of innovative start-ups in Germany, by improving the existing pertinent instruments and by connecting start-ups to global centres of growth and value creation. And we want to develop new potential for innovation in structurally weak regions.

4. We are creating favourable conditions for innovation.

Innovation requires stimulating environments that promote creativity, excellence and entrepreneurship. We thus plan to focus more intently on promoting innovation-friendly conditions, with a view to intensifying the pace and strength of innovation. We are planning new initiatives aimed at ensuring that we have enough skilled personnel – including initiatives in STEM/MINT subject areas, in efforts to enhance the attractiveness and permeability of vocational training and in efforts to improve a culture of welcome for foreigners working in Germany. We plan to further harmonise technical regulations and standards. We plan to develop an open-access strategy that will improve the framework for effective, continuing access to publicly financed publications. Via innovative public procurement, we plan to provide new incentives for innovation in industry. In addition, we plan to make Germany more internationally attractive as a centre for venture capital investments.

5. We are strengthening dialogue and participation.

Innovation needs to be enshrined in the very heart of society. We are thus working, by expanding and improving science communication, to strengthen the openness of all people to societal and technological innovations and changes. We plan to enhance the options and opportunities for interested citizens to help shape innovation-policy processes. We will develop new participation formats to that end, including formats for citizens' dialogues and public participation in research. We plan to make research funding more transparent, and we intend to establish new processes for strategic foresight.