Shaping innovation together

Sino-German cooperation Shaping innovation together

Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka and her Chinese counterpart Wan Gang have together attended the Sino-German Innovation Forum in Berlin. The event aimed to further develop cooperation between the two countries in the field of research and innovation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the Sino-German Forum "Shaping Innovation Together".

Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed establishing a Sino-German Research Fund

Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

Germany and China have been cooperating in the fields of industry, science and research for 39 years. Three years ago the two countries established a "strategic partnership" – partly to systematically strengthen research and innovation in cooperation. Initial pilot projects under the new innovation cooperation, including projects focusing on the technologies of the future, like Industry 4.0 (digitalised manufacturing), electric mobility and energy systems, are to be launched before the end of the year.

Addressing the issues of the future to underpin prosperity

Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out, "We will only be able to underpin our prosperity if we keep working towards the future". That is why it is important to focus cooperation in the future on research and development in the fields of Industry 4.0 and electric mobility. Globalisation and digitalisation are bringing changes that both countries should harness together. This does, however, also imply a special responsibility – for instance for climate change mitigation, for preventing violent conflicts, and in the field of international trade policy.

China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Wan Gang, China’s Minister of Science and Technology, also stressed the importance of cooperation, especially in the field of innovation. While Germany achieved the target of spending 3 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) on research and development in 2015, China’s spending is currently about 2.1 per cent of GDP. It aims to raise this to 2.5 per cent by 2020. In pure research in particular, in promoting young people and in the fields of the environment, energy, health and food, closer cooperation is needed.

Today China is one of the world’s leading research nations and is systematically developing its innovative capacities. That makes China not only a competitor but an important research and development partner in the quest to find solutions to the global challenges of our times.

Angela Merkel proposes a common research fund

Angela Merkel proposed setting up a common research fund, which would start up in 2018 and as of 2020 be funded to the tune of up to 4 million euros a year by each side.

"The common research fund is a way of strategically developing cooperation and supporting German and Chinese research organisations and companies that perform research in developing innovative technologies," explained Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka.

Creating fair conditions for businesses

Li Keqiang and Wan Gang invited German companies – especially medium-sized businesses – to invest in China. They promised that China would do everything possible to ensure fair market access and to protect intellectual property.

Johanna Wanka stressed that this is a precondition for private companies getting involved in this cooperation arrangement alongside research facilities. German research and intermediary organisations must also be able to work unhampered in China.

In future a bilateral steering committee is to develop instruments for joint promotion measures, adapt procedures and frameworks, and discuss the relevant issues.

"Every state has its own interests," said Angela Merkel after the meeting "but in an ever more interconnected world, there is more and more overlap of national interests". It is thus more important than ever to realise that, "if we work against one another we bind forces unnecessarily, whereas if we work together we can pool our forces. And that is precisely what is needed. Common tasks should be tackled together."