Challenges and Results

Innovation policy advice

New technologies require new partnerships

Germany's competitiveness and prosperity are based on innovations in science and industry. Preserving and strengthening innovation is a central policy objective. But what political measures are eligible in order to create propitious basic conditions for creative ideas and new marketable products? It is around this basic question that the Innovation Dialogue between the German Federal Government, Business and Science revolves. Organised by acatech since 2010, it has become the central platform for relevant stakeholders in the German innovation system to exchange their views.

Innovation Dialogue: Exploring relevant issues of the future

Twice a year, the Innovation Dialogue assembles the German Chancellor, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, the Federal Minister of Education and Research and the Head of the Chancellery along with 16 representatives from academia, industry and civil society to discuss important issues of the future. The Innovation Dialogue is chaired by acatech President Henning Kagermann. An operational office based at the Academy coordinates the process

Each topic of the Innovation Dialogue is thoroughly researched and compiled in a separate policy paper, providing the participants with a common level of knowledge and serving as a basis for the discussions with the Federal Government.

"Designing major issues of the future such as globalisation, digitisation and Industrie 4.0 requires open-mindedness and a partnership between academia, industry, the public and the government. In this sense, acatech has the role of a lighthouse, offering orientation in the German innovation landscape and promoting cooperations.”

Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy at acatech's Annual Meeting in October 2015

Digitisation: The potentials of connectivity

The reconstitution of the Innovation Dialogue in 2014 was followed by the second meeting of its members in this legislature on April 29, 2015. The participants discussed "Digital ecosystems and the future of value creation in the German economy". In digital ecosystems, platforms are collecting and processing data and create according new intelligent services. Thus, new business models evolve and previously static value chains are transformed into flexible value networks. For companies, this entails the challenge to shape and design the hence digitally interconnected work processes. For Germany as competitive production location, the digital transformation is also connected with the challenge of retaining technological sovereignty in the fields of hardware and software. The preparatory dossier was drawn up by the operational office in cooperation with Volkmar Denner (Bosch), Ralph Dommermuth (United Internet) and Reiner Hoffmann (German Trade Union Confederation).

Human-machine interaction: Connecting skills and creating experimental spaces

The Innovation Dialogue on November 10, 2015 continued directly on these lines, examining the central issues in more detail. The discussion revolved around the “Innovation Potential of Human-machine Interaction”.

Germany is in a good starting position to successfully participate in the global developments in the field of human-machine interaction. It requires, however, a better synergy of the skills and expertise present in Germany, for instance in the fields of machine learning or sensor and actuator technology.

Also, more open and experimental spaces are needed to accelerate the conversion of research results into successful innovations. Provided that such a process takes individual and social requirements and values adequately into account, Germany can benefit from the opportunities human-machine interaction offers in terms of further growth, competitiveness and quality of life. This topic was researched and prepared by the Innovation Dialogue office in cooperation with Andreas Barner (Boehringer Ingelheim) Reimund Neugebauer (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft), Martin Stratmann (Max Planck Society) and Eberhard Veit (Festo).

Innovation Indicator: Promoting innovation in the mid-tiers

In 2015, acatech and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) for the first time jointly published the Innovation Indicator. The annual study compares the innovative strength of 35 leading industrialised and emerging countries and recommends actions to foster Germany’s competitiveness. The main results are these: Even in the difficult global economic environment, Germany is well positioned to stand its ground in the international competition in innovation matters. However, it still lags behind the leaders Switzerland and Singapore. Small and medium enterprises (SME) are considered the backbone of the German economy; their innovation needs to be strengthened. Although almost half of the hidden champions world-wide are from Germany, German SME do not play a prominent role in the international innovation competition. They are hampered by difficulties in accessing research programs, digital ecosystems and specialists from abroad.