Research and Innovation
What do we need to achieve sustainable economic growth and a strong country that is resilient in times of crisis? More than anything, we need to be a global leader in research, development and innovation.
It takes a productive combination of inquisitive minds and can-do attitudes, an uninterrupted path from a good idea to practical application in industry to master the challenges we are facing when it comes to the important issues that will affect our future. That is especially true for the big challenges ahead of us: secure energy supply, for example, effective medical care and research, and sustainable mobility.
Germany is innovative and a leader in research. Spending on research and development (R&D) has increased consistently since the early 2000s, roughly doubling over time. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 there was a decline for the first time. German companies significantly reduced their R&D spending by about 6.3 percent, while the Federal Government and the Länder increased their funding. The Federal Government alone increased its R&D expenditure by 1.9 billion euros to a total actual amount of 20.7 billion euros in 2020.
In the same year, government and industry in Germany together spent around 106.6 billion euros on R&D – 3.1 percent less than in the year before. This represents around 3.13 percent of Germany's gross domestic product (GDP). It also means that, despite the effects of the pandemic, Germany exceeded the target formulated by the European Union of spending three percent of GDP on R&D for the fourth consecutive year.
Germany regularly features as one of the world’s leading locations of innovation in international ranking exercises. It comes in sixth among the 27 EU Member States on the European Innovation Scoreboard 2021 (EIS) which places it among the group of Strong Innovators. The Global Innovation Index puts Germany among the leading countries. Germany is also a worldwide leader in patent applications, accounting for nearly twice as many patents with world market relevance per million citizens as the USA.
Research and innovation play a central role in overcoming current and future societal challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic provided a further clear example of this. Therefore we must strengthen Germany and Europe’s position in international competition against the backdrop of rapid technological development and geopolitical changes. Research and innovation are the drivers for this and important levers for the transformation to sustainability.