In general, Structural reforms with regard to the German R&D and innovation system were continued in course of 2012 and 2013, especially the ‘Excellenzinitiative’ (outlook: continue as before) and ‘Pakt für Forschung und Innovation’ (outlook: further expanding).
Below, some (recent) policy developments are outlined in brief.
Raising budget of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
The Federal Government is continuing to make targeted investments in education and research even in times of budgetary consolidation. In 2012, the budget of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) increased by 11% (<link>), the provisions for 2013 grew by 6.3% compared to 2012 (totalling about €13.75b) and, despite the attempt of budgetary consolidation, the Government draft for the 2014 federal budget provides for a further increase in the 2014 budget for the BMBF of about €224 million, up to a total of some €14 billion. <link>
National Research Infrastructure Roadmap
On April 29th 2013, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) presented a National Roadmap for Research Infrastructures (RI) in Germany [“Roadmap für Forschungsinfrastrukturen”]. The launching of the new strategy is meant to support and guide political decisions in terms of research infrastructures (i.e. for instance large scale research infrastructures of national / European importance, comprehensive experiments, etc.). It is assumed to be an impetus towards joint planning of research infrastructures (at federal and Länder level in Germany, but as well with regard to large scale RI development in the EU). <link>
BMWi: New strategy paper outlining a revised innovation concept
The federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) presented in May 2012 a revised innovation strategy which aims at predefining the general orientation of the BMWi’s R&D and innovation policy in future. The concept comprises of four main elements: (1) enhancing open-mindedness towards new technologies, (2) creating a more innovation-friendly environment, (3) implementing more efficient measures for innovative SMEs, and (4) opportunity-oriented technology funding. Under the general heading “Making the most of technology: spurring progress, stimulating growth, shaping the future”, a number of specific objectives are set to be achieved by 2020, e.g. the total number of firms doing R&D, number of innovative firms in Germany, and the positioning among the most technology and innovation-friendly countries in the world. The paper further outlines a series of corresponding intentions and measures as e.g. facilitating access to finance, slashing red tape, ensuring fair competition and an adequate supply of skilled work force. Overall, the Strategy Paper is due to complement/substantiate the High-tech Strategy 2020 of the Federal Government. <link>
German ERA position paper 2013
In its communication on "A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth", released in July 2012, the European Commission submitted proposals for further development of the corresponding process. In February 2013, the German Federal Government replied by means of a corresponding Position Paper. Thus, the German government argues against a series of EC suggestions related to ERA-priority III (e.g. introducing a special "industry PhD", an accreditation mechanism for human resources management, and also the requirement of publishing all vacancies on EURAXESS in English). Moreover, it points to the general need of flexibility and in this regard recalls the importance of subsidiarity (esp. with regard to ERA-priority II, IV, and V). No urgent need for (own) action is seen with regard to priority I. Finally, the German government also commented on the ERA monitoring mechanism (EMM). <link>
GWK Monitoring Report 2013
The annual GWK Monitoring Report [“GWK Studie – Pakt für Forschung und Innovation: Monitoring Bericht 2013”] serves to evaluate the achievements made with regard to the national ‘Pact for Research and Innovation’ and points to needs for action in terms of policy making. The 2013 report presents the current state of play – thus acknowledges explicitly the achievements made so far – and outlines where the Expert Commission still sees room for further improvement as, for instance, with regard to the general transition towards more flexible institutional framework conditions for research and innovation in Germany. <link>
EFI Report on research, innovation and technological performance in Germany
The Expert Commission on Research and Innovation (EFI) presented its sixth report to Chancellor Merkel in February 2013. The commission thus emphasises (again) that for Germany a strong research sector is imperative for succeeding in the global competition. In the light of the federal elections in autumn 2013, the Expert Commission discusses major developments during recent years and identifies priority fields of action that should be addressed by the political stakeholders in the coming legislative period. In this context, for instance, the Expert Commission recommends setting ambitious R&D and educational budget targets for the year 2020 (i.e. going well beyond the current 3% of GDP goal for R&D investments).
High-Tech Strategy 2020
This strategy outlines the research and innovation policy of the federal government for the coming years. The main aims of the HTS are to create lead markets, intensify cooperation between science and industry, and to continue to improve the general conditions for innovation. With the proposed directions and instruments, basically all structural challenges can be addressed. On 28.03.2012, the federal government has adapted an Action Plan for the HTS-2020 and thus formulated 10 future-oriented projects (Zukunftsprojekte) which aim at addressing the grand societal challenges. The federal government thus seeks to bundle the innovation relevant policies and initiatives of all federal resorts and also to bring together the efforts made at HEI/PRO and business sector, particularly in the fields of clime/energy, health/healthy food, mobility, communication, and security.
Draft for changing the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz, Artikel 91b)
This draft seeks to change the current regulation in terms of financing universities (in particular joint initiatives of federal and state level). As outlined in chapter 2.1 with regard to “national economic and political context” and again in chapter 3 below in the light of structural challenges the German system is facing, a main obstacle for significant changes in terms of Germany’s education policy is the fact that it is subject to complex policy coordination since it is within the responsibility of the individual states. The initiative of changing the corresponding legislation is an attempt to improve the situation and allow for joint (federal and state level) financing of universities (i.e. basically reversing the changes made in terms of the last amendment of the law in 2006). However, the initiative is still subject of a controversial political debate.
Freedom for Science law “Wissenschaftsfreiheitsgesetz”
The new law aims at making the budgetary rules of (publicly co-financed) non-university research institutions more flexible, i.e. cutting red tape, providing more freedom on financial decisions and with regard to human resources management, etc.
Foreign Skills Approval/Recognition law „Anerkennungsgesetz“<more info>
The new law came into force on 01/04/2012 and creates a legal entitlement to claim for recognition of foreign vocational education (to be decided within 3 months). The newly founded central institution IHK FOSA (Foreign Skills Approval) is carrying out the assessment and decides about recognition. <more info>