Research and Innovation

Research, development and innovation form the basis for Germany‘s prosperity and competitiveness.

Research, development and innovation form the basis for Germany‘s prosperity and competitiveness© thinkstock

Viable solutions for environmentally friendly energy, efficient health care, sustainable mobility, secure communication and secure production in Germany cannot be developed without progress in science and technology. The challenges Germany is facing up to also concern other countries in Europe and across the world.

Germany has been investing more funds in research and development (R&D) in recent years than ever before. The Federal Government's expenditure on R&D rose by 9.0 billion euros between 2005 and 2017 to 17.2 billion euros (target) in 2017. This represents an increase of over 90%. According to provisional calculations, in 2015, the R&D expenditure of the German industry increased by 10% to 62.5 billion euros. State and industry together spent almost 90 billion euros on R&D in 2015. This represents approximately 3% of Germany's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means that Germany has achieved the target of the Europe 2020 Strategy of spending an annual 3% of GDP on R&D.

Germany accounts for 30% of all R&D expenditure in the European Union; five of Europe's ten most innovative companies come from Germany. Germany features as one of the world’s leading locations of innovation in international ranking exercises. Both the European Innovation Scoreboard of the European Commission and the Global Innovation Index place Germany among the leading countries for innovation. Germany is also a worldwide leader in patent applications. Germany accounts for nearly twice as many patents with world market relevance per million citizens as the USA. Germany’s good international position in terms of its excellence rate, which shows what proportion of its published research results are among the most cited, has been improving continuously in recent years.

Over the past decade, Germany’s share of world trade in research-intensive goods has remained stable. In 2014, Germany’s share was more than 12% and thus slightly higher than the USA’s at around 12% and considerably higher than Japan's at 6%. Germany is also a leader among European countries in this trade.

It is essential to consider future trends and challenges in order to maintain Germany's strong international position in the long term. Digitalization is a decisive factor here as it offers new opportunities for fields of application such as artificial intelligence and human-technology interaction. Boosting the flagging innovative strength of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is another important aspect. Here the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is introducing structural measures such as the "10 Point Programme - Priority for SMEs".