Ambitious Cutting-Edge Research
Science and research are held in high esteem in Germany. Over the past few years, businesses and the government have continually increased their knowledge work budgets. In 2018 the proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP) spent on research was 3.13 percent. Internationally this put Germany in the top group of countries that invest more than 3 percent of their GDP in research and development (R&D) and made it the fourth most research-intensive economy in the world. In 2018 in Germany a total of around 105 billion euros was spent on R&D. Of this, 68.9 percent flows into the business sector, 17.6 percent into higher education and 13.5 percent into the state sector. The Federal Government’s R&D spending has doubled since 2006.
Around 708,000 people were employed in the area of research and development in Germany in 2018, with 63 percent of them in the business sector. Germany is well above average for the European Union and ahead of China and Japan as regards the proportion of people working in R&D compared to the total number of employed persons. The proportion of R&D spending compared to GDP is set to rise further and should reach the 3.5-percent mark by 2025.
German academics’ results are highly presentable: In the 2020 Nature Index Global, which evaluates the publication output of research facilities and higher education institutions in natural sciences, Germany achieved top marks in Europe. At the international level it is in third place behind the frontrunners, the USA and China.
Since 2006 Germany has developed a particular innovation tool in the form of its interdepartmental High-Tech Strategy. Since then, High-Tech Strategy research projects have prompted a raft of innovations – from energy-saving LED bulbs to a tissue-engineered heart valve. The High-Tech Strategy initially had the market potential of specific fields of technology in its sights, whereas since 2010 it has been focusing on society’s need for solutions that are fit for the future, and their realisation. With the High-Tech Strategy 2025, which was agreed in 2018, seven focal areas are brought to the fore: health and care, sustainability, climate protection and energy, mobility, town and country, security, and business and work 4.0. Elements of the strategy already implemented include the foundation of the Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation (SPRIND) in Leipzig and the introduction of tax incentives for research funding, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. The specific goals of the High-Tech Strategy 2025 include the fight against cancer, reducing plastic in the environment, and a largely greenhouse-gas-neutral industrial sector.