New high-tech forum advises government on innovation

A new committee has been created to advise the federal government on issues concerning its high-tech policies. The High-Tech Forum consists of experts from politics, science and society.

Last September, the government launched its high-tech strategy – Innovations for Germany – aimed at strengthening the nation’s leading position as an industrial and exporting country. The strategy focuses on the innovation process as a whole, from a new idea to its implementation into new products and services.

This follows the launch in 2010 of a document Ideas. Innovation. Prosperity: High-tech strategy 2020 for Germany that sets out in a dozen pages the issues that needed to be addressed over the following decade.

“The High-Tech Strategy is the first broad national concept in which the key stakeholders involved in innovation share a joint vision. It has formulated goals for a wide range of different fields of innovation, defined priorities, and introduced new instruments such as the leading-edge cluster competition and the innovation alliances,” the document states.

With the launch of the new committee to take the project further, all government departments are involved in a joint effort focusing on areas such as information and communications technology, environmentally-friendly production and consumption, energy and health. The idea is to forge links between science and industry and research and society in a bid to achieve good growth and job prospects.

The 20 experts appointed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are to develop recommendations on implementing the strategy and, together with politicians, will discuss the latest innovation policy trends, formulate new research objectives and design scenarios for the future.

“Research and innovation are key to boosting growth and prosperity in Germany,” said Education and Research Minister Johanna Wanka at the first meeting of the forum.

“I expect the members of the forum to act as consultants and ambassadors for forward-looking topics. We want to make a joint effort to improve the environment for innovative and creative solutions and identify trends as early as possible and bring them into society.”

Wanka applauded the fact that women account for 40% of the new committee’s membership.

The forum is co-chaired by Andreas Barner, chairman of the board of managing directors of the chemical company Boehringer Ingelheim and president of the Stifterverband, an initiative offering private-sector support for education and science. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer Society, Europe’s largest applied research organisation, is the other co-chair.

Issues the forum are to address include what new innovation models will look like, how transfer of results from research to society can be improved, and how networks such as cutting-edge clusters can be consolidated and become more internationally oriented.

Forum activities are coordinated by a head office in Berlin, staffed by members of the Stifterverband and the Fraunhofer Society.

Michael Gardner Email: