• 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
Far-right AfD leader injured by flying frozen cake
Jörg Meuthen and a cake. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right AfD party was attacked with a cake while attending a political event on Monday. But the fact the dessert was frozen made the act "dangerous", according to the politician.

Underwater pensioner hunts boats on famed Bavarian lake
A passenger boat on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

"I love chasing the ships, and what a great feeling it is when they sound the horn!" he gleefully exclaims.

What are Merkel's chances for remaining Chancellor?
Photo: DPA.

She's already held the Chancellery for over a decade, but infighting with political allies as well as a rocky response to her refugee policies may put a damper on Angela Merkel's staying power.

German EU commissioner doubts Brexit will happen
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Photo: EPA.

Germany's EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger raised doubts on Tuesday about whether Britain would leave the bloc, saying he wouldn't bet on "Brexit".

Merkel offers Russia a lifting of sanctions - if it behaves
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she has "the very greatest interest in stopping sanctions" against Russia, Reuters reports.

'Idiot' youth lets regional train drive over him as dare
Photo: DPA

In a stunt police have described as "incomprehensible idiocy," a drunk young man from Munich lay down on the tracks in front of a fast-moving train and let it ride over him.

'Unfriendly' Germans make expat life harder: report
Photo: Pexels.com

Expats in Germany generally find it great for families and starting a career, but were turned off by the language barriers and "unfriendly" Germans upon arrival, according to a new report.

Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA/AFP Pool.

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer".

Police investigate after mosque door is bricked shut
The bricked-up door. Photo: Facebook/Netzwerk für Flüchtlinge in Parchim.

Unknown people have bricked up the entrance to a mosque in northeastern Germany and stuck racist flyers to their masonry work.

Vice-Chancellor: TTIP trade deal is dead
Photo: DPA

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
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
7,431
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd