Let's use the opportunities offered by digitalisation, says Chancellor

Research Summit 2016 in Berlin Let's use the opportunities offered by digitalisation, says Chancellor

Germany must see the signs and recognise what the future holds, if it is not to lose ground to its competitors, the Chancellor has said. An innovative spirit, cyber security and good education are crucial factors. The Research Summit looked at how Germany can harness digitalisation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the Research Summit.

We now have a good starting position for Industry 4.0, says Chancellor

Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

The aim of this year’s Research Summit was to strengthen the common dialogue on achievements, challenges and prospects in research and innovation. Representatives of the realms of politics, science and research, business and civil society attended.

Retaining Germany’s innovative force

It is important to continually strengthen Germany as an attractive base for research and innovation, stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel in her opening address. "Economic success builds on scientific achievements," said the Chancellor. Germany is one of world’s most successful exporting nations, because its research- and development-intensive high-tech products are seen to be attractive on the world market. "We will only be able to retain our prosperity, if we can retain our innovative force," warned the Chancellor.

Especially in this era of digitalisation, Germany will only be able to hold its own against international competitors if it can continue to offer innovation-friendly products. If we are to do this, digitalisation must be embraced with greater enthusiasm and we must push ahead down this path. "Certain developments will come more swiftly than we could have imagined five or ten years ago. We must focus on the opportunities."

Stifterverband, Leopoldina the German National Academy of Sciences and the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation hosted the Second Research Summit in Berlin. Alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel, some 400 high-ranking guests from the realms of politics, science and research, business and civil society attended the one-day congress.

New High-Tech Strategy and Digital Agenda

The Chancellor pointed to the new High-Tech Strategy of the German government, which she said is important in strengthening Germany’s innovative force. It is a successful, inter-ministerial innovation system. In this context, she also stressed how important it is for various actors to work together and foster a lively exchange. This is also reflected, in a most exemplary way, in the German government’s Digital Agenda and its Innovation Dialogue.

The German government intends to steadily improve the framework to strengthen Germany’s innovative force. The Chancellor praised the "reliable financing in the research sector", which she described as a particularly positive development. She announced that Germany was now "very close" to achieving the spending target of 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development. The focus now must also be to make Germany more attractive for start-ups.

Integration through education

According to the Federal Employment Agency, 10 to 15 per cent of refugees will be able to find work "very rapidly". That was the Chancellor’s answer to the question of integrating refugees. It is important to bring together potential employers and refugees, she said. Internet platforms are to help here. The German government is also planning to set up decentralised regional contact points for local businesses.

The lack of German language skills is often a major problem said the Chancellor. She proposed that practical skills should be given precedence and the people given the chance to acquire partial qualifications. In this way they could begin to work as soon as possible.

Many refugees do not appreciate the value of vocational education and training, noted the Chancellor. They do not realise what prospects vocational training offers. Young people should be encouraged to take this path. Because skills acquired in Germany can also be a great benefit to the home countries of these people if they return.