The Information Society

The development of information and communication technologies (ICT) is a driver for major innovations in production and services. Support for this emerging sector has made our country highly competitive and has created many new jobs.

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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.

Germany's ICT Competence

About 860,000 people work in the ICT industry alone. It contributes 6 percent of gross value added and has a turnover of 150 billion euros (2012).

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.

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.

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).