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Key technologies: Drivers of innovation

Key technologies: Drivers of innovation

Emerging technologies are the basis for new products, processes and services which can contribute to mastering current social challenges. Without them, innovation would be unthinkable today. Our country's economic future depends on how effectively we use the opportunities linked to key technologies. The Federal Government wants to further strengthen Germany's top position in the field of technology within the framework of its High-Tech Strategy and wants to promote transfer of research results into business applications.

Information and communication technologies, optical technologies, production technologies, materials technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, microsystems technologies and innovative services are considered to be drivers of innovations - above all in areas of application such as automotive engineering, medical technology, mechanical engineering and logistics. Developments in these key technologies provide solutions for the challenges of our time. Without them, we would have neither highly efficient, modern medical drugs nor a reduction of CO2 emissions in road traffic.

The Federal Government therefore continues to work towards the objective of enhancing Germany's top position in key technologies and to accelerate the implementation of research results in products, processes and services. At the same time, new fields of application are to be developed and the further development of lead markets is to be encouraged and promoted. The focus is on the fields of health, climate protection/the protection of resources/energy, security and mobility. Another focus is on innovative services. They increase the marketability of new technical developments and open new markets and opportunities for employment. Funding key technologies and innovative services is intended to strengthen Germany's position as system solution provider.

The competitiveness of production and jobs in Germany and the country's economic future in a knowledge-based society depend on how well we use the opportunities provided by key technologies and on whether transfer to industrial use is successful. There is great potential. In the following, there are some examples of the economic importance of industries that are linked to key technologies:

Information and communication technologies (ICT): 800,000 jobs in Germany currently provide for about a 145 billion euros turnover. The introduction of broadband Internet can create approximately 100,000 additional jobs in Europe each year.

Microsystems technology has seen a growth of about 15 percent p.a. over the past three years.

Optical technologies: Germany is world market leader in many fields of laser technology. Its world market share in high-performance lasers for materials processing, for example, is 40 percent. The light of the future - the LED - holds a world market share of 12 percent. Germany ranks second in this field.

Production technologies: 6,000 companies with over 975,000 employees accounted for a combined turnover of 205 billion euros in 2008. German mechanical engineers are world market leaders with a share of about 19 percent of trade.

Materials technologies: In Germany, five million people work in branches in which materials technologies play a role.

Biotechnology: An enormous increase in turnover can be expected in medical and industrial biotechnology. In the field of industrial biotechnology alone, the industry today boasts a turnover of about 50 billion euros worldwide. In ten years, a turnover of 300 billion euros is expected.

Nanotechnology: The worldwide market volume for 2015 is estimated at over one trillion euros.

Services industry: This is the biggest value adding area in Germany with over 27 million employees (70 percent).

The Federal Government is funding key technologies with numerous initiatives and measures under its High-Tech Strategy. These include:

  • Establishment of innovation alliances and strategic partnerships - such as: organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), organic photovoltaics, CarbonNanoTubes, digital product memory, applied virtual technologies over the product and production life cycle, transport services for the Internet of the future - 100 GET, secure intelligent mobility - test field Germany, standards for mobile communication of the fourth generation, the BioPharma competition and BioIndustry2021.
  • The "ICT 2020 - Research for Innovations" programme focuses research funding on fields of application which are particularly strong in Germany and in which innovations are to a large extent driven by ICT.
  • The "Innovations against Product Piracy" research initiative promotes the fight against plagiarization of investment industry products under the "Research for tomorrow's production" programme.
  • "WING - Innovative Materials for Industry and Society" promotes materials research for better, more efficient and cheaper tailor-made materials.
  • With the "Framework Programme Biotechnology - Using and Shaping its Opportunities", funding is geared at innovations in industrial and medical biotechnology and plant biotechnology.
  • With the "Nano-Initiative Action Plan 2010", an interdepartmental framework for action was created for faster implementation of research results in products and for better framework conditions.
  • By means of microsystems technology, ICT, medical technology and innovative services, the conditions are being developed for ambient assisted living (AAL) to enable elderly people to lead a healthy and independent life.
  • "Innovations with Services" promotes innovation dynamics and in particular the systematic development of innovative services.
    With its High-Tech Strategy, the Federal Government wants to intensify links between disciplines and between technologies and fields of application. Emerging synergies will benefit intelligent solutions: for a better climate, more energy efficiency, better health or improved mobility and security. The Federal Government continues to pursue the task of developing perfectly fitting measures for key technologies and to adapt existing measures in order to provide the best preconditions for transfer of research results into application.
  • Old and new markets with great growth potential

    The High-Tech Strategy has provided particular impetus to information and communication technologies (ICT). ICT penetrate an increasingly large number of fields of work and life in our society. They are the basis for new multimedia applications and services in industry (e-business, e-commerce) and public administration (e-government), in health (e-health), transport and private life. Information and communication technologies hold great economic potential. At the same time, they drive growth in many other industries.
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  • Optical technologies create growth and employment

    By means of research funding under the High-Tech Strategy, optical technologies have become one of the outstanding fields of German excellence worldwide. Optical technologies "Made in Germany" are a dominant feature of many industries - from electronics to mechanical engineering to medicine.
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  • Sustainability - a strong trend

    Cars, machines and industrial plants from Germany are popular all over the world. Since raw materials have become scarce and expensive, sustainability is also becoming increasingly important in the field of production technologies. The Federal Government supports this trend in order to increase resource and energy efficiency in production.
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  • With innovative materials to the top

    Pacemaker implants must be well tolerated, elements in a car must be very stable: new developments depend decisively on the right properties of materials, but it is not always easy to find the optimal solution. With its "Innovative Materials for Industry and Society" programme, the Federal Government pursues the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of important German industries.
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  • High-Tech Strategy provides new impetus

    Biotechnology has become the basis and driver of many applications in medicine, in the food and feeds industry and in the chemical industry. It is, for example, used in the production of medical drugs, for new diagnosis and therapy concepts, the production of fine chemicals, wastewater treatment processes or energy production from biomass. New impetus is also provided by the biotechnology initiatives of the High-Tech Strategy. The focus is on fields of application of white, red and green biotechnology.
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  • Germany is a big player in the world of the tiniest things

    Nanotechnology opens up the world of the tiniest things. Germany is a big player in this field. Consistent funding by the Federal Government is making an important contribution to this. With about 370 million euros in Federal Government funds, Germany is by far the leader in Europe. Now, we must set the right course for future developments and, above all, develop the application potential. This is the aim of the Federal Government's Nano initiatives.
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  • Great economic potential through broad application

    Microsystems Technology (MST) is used everywhere - by suppliers of car parts, in medical technology and in the information and communication sectors. The sector employs approximately 766,000 people in Germany and had a turnover of more than 82 billion euros in 2009. The upward trend will continue - with growth rates of up to 10 percent per year. Funding for this key technology is thus an important part of the Federal Government's High-Tech Strategy. The BMBF plans to set aside approximately 80 million euros for microsystems technology in 2010 alone under the funding programme "Information and Communication Technologies (ICT 2020)".
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  • The greatest value adding sector with a dynamic development

    There is a growing demand for products which are offered complete with services to cater to individual customer wishes. Increasingly, products and services are offered as a package. This makes for unique features which are an advantage in the face of global competition. Innovative services play a key role for industry and innovation policy. This is why the Federal Government has launched "Innovations in Services" programme.
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Additional information

Deutsche Version dieser Seite


  • Ideas. Innovation. Prosperity. ID = 1265

    cover of this publication

    High-Tech Strategy 2020 for Germany

    2010, 26 pages

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© 04/23/2014 04:08 Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung