• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Germany must lead in innovation: experts
A scientist working on electronics in Hermsdorf, Thuringia. Photo: DPA

Germany must lead in innovation: experts

DPA/The Local · 21 Dec 2015, 12:07

Published: 21 Dec 2015 12:07 GMT+01:00

ccording to the Innovation Indicator 2015, Germany reached just fifth place in the worldwide innovation stakes, behind Switzerland, Singapore, Finland and Belgium.

That meant that the country had maintained its 2014 standing, already a big improvement on 10 or 15 years ago when it was 10th in the table.

Germany was also well ahead of big European competitor nations, like Britain, France or Italy – placed at 12th, 18th and 25th respectively.

But the authors of the study suggest that this still isn't Germany at its best.

"It's justifiable to be a little worried about falling back if we don't become more innovative," said Henning Kagermann, head of the Academy for Technological Science (Acatech) which collaborated on the study.

"In the overall ranking, Germany ought to be in the top three".

The Innovation Indicator assembles data from 38 different sources to provide a single score for how innovative an economy is, including a country's science and research base, state support for innovation, education levels and many more.

"Germany may not be at the absolute top... as should be its aspiration, but instead is part of the directly pursuing group," the authors write.

"Germany performs best in the Innovation Indicator in comparison with large economies, although countries like the US or Great Britain are to be found only slightly behind."

How to catch up

But the authors suggest that there are obvious fixes that could see Germany shoot quickly up the table.

One area where the country lags is in spending by small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) on research, with a share of just 16 percent of spending nationwide.

That's much less than the USA, where the figure is 19 percent, or Sweden where it's a soaring 27 percent.

"We can't conclude from the large number of global market leaders from the German Mittelstand (SMEs) that these companies are more innovative than in other countries," said Acatech boss Kagermann.

"Hidden champions in niche markets rarely grow into global businesses, because their market segment imposes narrow borders."

Meanwhile, the authors also argue that the government could do more to support innovation in smaller companies.

Story continues below…

Only half of SMEs even have a separate research and development (R&D) division – meaning that they may not qualify for government grants or subsidies.

"Access to these subsidy programmes must become simpler. Too many firms slip through the net," Kagermann said.

More generally, the authors insist that attempts to improve innovation in Germany "should not be restricted to the narrow range of education, research and knowledge transfer.

"Rather, the innovation capacity of the German economy is influenced to a considerable extent by... labour, tax and energy policy. The question of how innovative activity can play a more central role in all economic and social policy decision-making processes must be addressed."

SEE ALSO: German scientists make big stride towards fusion

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
 'One dead and two injured' in Germany machete attack
News channel NTV said there were scenes of panic in the city centre following the attack. Photo: DPA

A 21-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker killed a woman and injured two people with a machete Sunday in the southwest German city of Reutlingen in an incident local police said did not bear the hallmarks of a "terrorist attack".

Munich gunman planned attacks for one year: officials
Vigils continue in Munich to commemorate the victims, seven of whom were teenagers. Photo: DPA

The teenage gunman who killed nine people in Munich on Friday had been planning his attack for a year, according to German authorities.

Germany grapples with enigma of Munich gunman
A debate is already underway as to whether Germany's gun laws, which are already strict, should be tightened further. Photo: AFP

Investigators were seeking clues on Sunday into the mind of gunman David Ali Sonboly, the teen author of one of Germany's bloodiest killing sprees.

Munich shooting
 Social media a blessing and a curse in Munich shooting
The Munich gunman may have hacked a Facebook account to lure some of the victims to the McDonald's fast-food outlet where the shooting began. Photo: DPA

Social networks were both a curse and a blessing in the deadly shopping mall shooting in Munich, as police sometimes found themselves chasing fictitious leads and false alarms.

Munich shooting
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Munich shooting
Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,742
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd