The Information Society - Setting the Course for the Future
The development of information and communication technologies (ICT) is a driver for major innovations in production and services. Technological development is vital if we are to remain internationally competitive. Support for this emerging sector has made our country competitive again and has created many new jobs. As usual, the funding priorities are set by the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme and the BMBF's ICT 2020 programme.
A large part of Germany's industrial production and in particular its exports depend on the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT). They are the basis for the economic performance of all industrialized nations and the basis for a large number of services. They interact with production technology, materials technology, optical technologies, and microsystem technology. ICTs provide control and test facilities for mechanical and plant engineering; regulate processes in the chemical industry; and determine all important functions in modern vehicles, including the engine, communication, comfort, and safety. ICTs are key technologies for innovations.
Currently, about 860,000 people work in the ICT industry alone. It contributes 6% of gross value added and has a turnover of 150 billion euros, which makes it an important industrial sector in Germany with a far greater significance for the overall economy due to synergies with other technologies and its fundamental importance for other sectors.
Germany's ICT Competence
Germany has an excellent research community, not least in the area of ICT. For example, the .mp3 format for music files was developed in Germany at the Fraunhofer Society. All major manufacturers have research laboratories in Germany. The BMBF is setting the course, so that Germany can further enhance its leading role as a location for high-tech and actively help develop the information society in Europe.
The triumph of ICT and in particular of the Internet is linked to new challenges in the area of privacy and IT security. Germany holds a leading position in Europe in this field. The technological criteria linked to these topics are considered in great detail, as is the impact on society in the age of Facebook and Twitter as well as phishing and pharming.
However, the Internet does not only link people. Networked embedded systems - so called cyber-physical systems - are integrated in a growing number of everyday objects. The physical world is hooked up to the virtual world. Applications are now found in machine controls, medical devices or ABS systems in cars. The networking of objects and the use of networked embedded systems provides industry with new opportunities.
Based on German industry's competences in managing industrial production processes and controlling and combining complex production and business processes, the forward-looking project Industry 4.0 will provide important prospects for technology, economy and social policy. Combining embedded systems with business application software leads to entirely new business models and considerable potential for optimizing production and logistics. At the same time, Industry 4.0 facilitates more resource-conserving production, greater individualization and a perfect fit of products at mass-production prices.
Information and Communication Technologies Are Creating Jobs
The objective of the Federal Government's support for ICT is the creation of new jobs in core industries as well as in the areas of ICT application, such as automotive construction, mechanical engineering and logistics. A special focus is on shaping the next generation of networks with German products and standards.
IT under the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme
During the last two years of the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP 7), i.e. in 2012/13, ICT funding will increase considerably in comparison to the previous years and start to lead into Horizon 2020, the new EU framework programme for research and innovation starting in 2014.
The IT Summit also pursues the aim of shaping the comprehensive structural changes linked to the mega-trend of digitalization by means of joint action of industry and science, society and politics. The digitalization and modernization of a country's central infrastructures - energy, transport, health, education and administration - provide the basis for innovations and smart technologies, for greater efficiency in business and administration and for new value creation.
The national IT Summit has become a platform for new forms of cooperation and dialogue to actively address the challenges of the digital world and to implement the aims and measures of the Federal Government's ICT strategy "Digital Germany 2015". This coordination of activities also includes procedures for implementing the forward-looking project Industry 4.0 as well as topics such as efficient infrastructures, IT security and networked administration.
ICT 2020 Funding Programme
The ICT 2020 funding programme will run for ten years and, unlike previous funding programmes, it is thematically more open and thus more flexible towards new developments. The fundamental feature of ICT 2020 continues to be the focus on five fields of application with a high percentage of ICT, great value creation and a large potential for jobs: automotive, automation, health and medicine, logistics and energy.
New priorities are Industry 4.0 and IT security and privacy.
A particular demand for research is seen in the following basic technologies:
- Electronics and Electronic Systems: Electronics and electronic systems are indispensable for the development of innovative and globally competitive products and services. Under ICT 2020, funding is provided for research and development (R&D) which is conducted in a collaboration between science and industry and which covers as much of the value added chain as possible.
The R&D priorities are innovative electronics systems for new applications, for example for mechanical and plant engineering and medical technology, 3D system integration, computer-based tools for the development of innovative electronic systems and competence centres for electronics research.
- IT Systems: Intelligent software systems are drivers of innovation in all major industries. They have a strong influence on the added value of products, production and business processes. They are an important competitive factor for German companies that are active on the global market. The networking of everyday objects into an "Internet of Things" plays an important role.
The priorities are embedded systems; simulated reality with the topics of grid applications and infrastructure, virtual/augmented reality, simulation, information logistics and software developments for high-performance computing, the Internet of Things, ambient intelligence and business process integration, new forms of human-technology interaction, comfort and usability.
- Communication Systems: Modern communication technologies have long since started to permeate all areas of life - the private area as well as business, culture and politics. The Internet in particular is an indispensable basis for central economic sectors such as finance, production and services. One trend will be the rapid growth of mobile communication, primarly driven by the mobile Internet.
The main areas are: new technologies as a basis for future communication standards; new applications, in particular assistance systems; new services for business communication and the health system; cognitive wireless communication systems using rare radio frequencies and meeting the future demand for bandwidth; the Internet of the future; autonomous sensor systems for independent networked communication; future technologies such as network information theory, polymer-based communication systems and integrated photonics.
- IT security: The growing distribution and importance of information and communication systems is leading to a growing number of increasingly professional attacks. In future, possible problematic issues will have to be identified as early as possible and suitable approaches for future solutions will have to be studied so that Germany can resolve the issues of cyber security in the long term.
The main areas are: the basis for the development of verifiable and consistently safe IT systems; the study of new approaches in analysing and protecting ICT systems; ensuring security in insecure environments; protection of Internet infrastructures; security by design; new challenges in the protection of IT systems and identification of weaknesses; quantum communication for safe data exchange between IT systems; framework conditions and technologies for a new culture of trust and privacy on the Internet.
- Human-Technology Interaction, Microsystems Technology: BMBF funding of microsystems technology and its interdisciplinary interaction with other key technologies contributes to providing groundbreaking technological solutions for "systems for people" to face up to societal challenges such as demographic change. The Federal Government has identified human-technology interaction as one of the areas that is important to our future and plays a prominent role in research activities in the high demand areas of the High-Tech Strategy 2020 for Germany.
The funding priorities are developments with a great practical relevance, such as assistance systems to maintain and restore body functions (human-technology interaction: assistance systems to support body functions), and technological research to obtain specific functions such as energy self-sufficiency of technical systems (self-sufficient mobility).
Innovation alliances between science, business and politics are to be forged to build bridges between (basic) technologies and fields of application/industries and to turn R&D results into economic success (cf. the Federal Government's High-Tech Strategy). Four strategic instruments are used in the ICT field to establish such innovation alliances:
- Lead innovations are vertically integrated collaborations that are aligned to certain application fields and industries where industrial partners are involved in research funding themselves.
- Technology groups are horizontally aligned collaborations to pursue technological objectives defined together with science and industry. A technology-based roadmap is agreed for implementation.
- Service platforms are horizontally and vertically integrated collaborations with the aim of facilitating the provision of new services by means of new IT services.
- ICT specific SME funding
topic Hightech Strategy
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are the number one driver of innovation. They are responsible for more than 80 per cent of innovations in the industries and fields of application in which Germany is particularly strong - the automotive sector, medical technology, and logistics. The Federal Government's High-Tech Strategy 2020 therefore puts ICT among the key enabling technologies that will play a decisive role for the future viability of the German economy.
Some computers are fun to work on; others less so. In future, robots will no longer work in separate areas in production facilities, but together with their human colleagues. This means that there is a considerable need for research and development to improve the interaction between humans and computers. The field of human-machine communication studies different ways of operating computers simply and creating functional and intelligent IT tools.
topic Hightech Strategy
Next to theory and experiment, the simulations produced by these computers have become the third pillar of science, particularly in areas such as health, energy, climate protection, and mobility research. Expansion of supercomputers in Germany continues: After the 2009 launch of "JUGENE" in Jülich, the 2012 launch of "HERMIT" in Stuttgart and SuperMUC in Garching, now JUQUEEN has been launched in Jülich. It is a worldwide leader in computational power and energy efficiency and is the most powerful supercomputer in Europe.