Accelerating research

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Research and Innovation Conference 2024 Accelerating research

At the 2024 Research Conference Federal Chancellor Scholz stressed the importance of a strong research sector in Germany, emphasising the need for closer cooperation between science and business, greater internationalisation, a faster pace and commitment to growth funding.

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Federal Chancellor Scholz stands on a stage at the 2024 Research Summit where he is giving a speech. The photo is taken from the audience, so the silhouettes of two audience members can be seen.

Federal Chancellor Scholz’s speech to the 2024 Research Summit included a call for closer collaboration between science and business.

Photo: Federal Government/Güngör

Speaking at the opening of the 2024 Research and Innovation Conference in Hanover, Federal Chancellor Scholz focused on four themes. He stressed the need for a clear commitment to the Growth Opportunities Act and the need to clear away bureaucratic obstacles to research. He also called for closer cooperation between science and business while stressing the importance of the international research sector to Germany.

“Machinery, steel, chemicals, cars, and outstanding technology have traditionally been Germany’s strengths. They show why Germany is a world leader,” Scholz said in his address. He also stressed that Germany was a “strong player” in future technologies, which, he said, were precisely the technologies we need for a climate-neutral world.

Research and innovation in Germany

The research summit has been organised since 2015 by Stifterverband, Leopoldina and the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, with support from the Volkswagen Foundation. This year’s conference has been renamed the “Research and Innovation Summit” to reflect the wider range of topics, and is taking place in cooperation with Hannover Messe.

The motto of this year’s Research Summit in Hanover was “Innovation in Europe: catalysts, competences and collaborations using the example of AI”. The conference aimed to identify where Germany and Europe stand in global competition around AI and to present strategies for staying competitive in the development of future technologies. Experts from politics, business and science discussed how research and innovation can strengthen policies in collaboration between science and business.

Research key to success

Germany is a successful industrial and export-led nation. “That’s why we’re investing more in research and development than ever,” said the Federal Chancellor. Investments in 2022 amounted to 120 billion euros. This corresponds to over 3 percent of Germany’s GDP and is far more than what is being invested in other European economies. Scholz stressed it was a good sign that Germany now held second place out of European countries with the most patent registrations.

However, he stressed this was not a reason to rest on our laurels. “We won’t remain at the forefront if we do nothing,” he warned in his speech. The Federal Chancellor also stressed the need for private investment from business to ensure Germany’s continued economic success. In addition to this, the state could provide support and incentives for investment to this end, he said. Scholz referred to the Growth Opportunities Act, which was recently passed into law. He explained that the new law improves and extends tax allowances for research. 

Closer integration of research and industry

Scholz went on to say that Germany needed to “speed up the transfer of research into practice” if it is to remain a world leader. Compared to other countries, he said, German products would need to be much more innovative and technologically sophisticated. In his speech Scholz stressed that “what we invent here today will be our competitive edge tomorrow.”

He said that Germany remained “outstanding” when it came to fundamental research, but he wanted to see German companies developing, marketing and selling these technologies. “We need to transfer more research into practice for that to happen,” he said. Scholz turned to the example of robotics initiatives in Germany, where a consortium of small and large companies had formed to work on AI-based robotics alongside the more academic focus of the Robotic Institute Germany. This, he said, showed that “we can advance major industrial initiatives by working together.”

Clearing away bureaucratic obstacles to research

The Federal Chancellor said that there was still too much bureaucracy in areas such as developing new processes or testing drugs. This was why the Federal Government had adopted the Health Data Use Act, he said, which would speed up and simplify the use healthcare data, while also clearing away bureaucratic obstacles and making it easier to carry out research in Germany.

Scholz explained that the Medical Research Act would also accelerate clinical research while ensuring permissions and approvals were granted more quickly. Pharmaceuticals and biotech companies in Germany would find it easier in future to develop patents here in Germany and to manufacture their medications here as well, Scholz predicted. “Less bureaucracy and greater freedom for research: that’s the road we’re committed to taking,” the Federal Chancellor said.

Promoting internationalisation

Scholz went on to stress the need to ensure that the German language should not be a barrier to international research, if Germany is to be an internationally attractive location for research. Germany was a beautiful language, he conceded, but it was complicated, too. Scholz therefore pointed out that the English skills of university students had to be on a level where they can effectively communicate with lecturers and researchers whose first language is not German. He appealed to leaders in education and science, universities and the Länder to encourage German students to speak more English. “Then we’ll be able to recruit the best in the world to our research institutions,” the Federal Chancellor said.

Improving funding for start-ups

Companies such as BioNTech, New Space and civilian spaceflight showed that Germany was in a good position when it came to early-stage financing, the Federal Chancellor said. However, Germany still needed to improve in the growth phase, he said. The Future Fund set up in 2021 includes 10 billion euros to boost start-ups up to 2030. The Financing for the Future Act also made it easier for start-ups and new businesses to mobilise private capital, Scholz said, adding that overall, Germany still lagged behind China and the USA when it came to funding research and development. The Federal Chancellor said that in his view, improving this situation would require a European capital market. He said he planned to work with French President Emmanuel Macron over the next few years to “get the job done properly”.