What the election means for research and innovation

For nearly 40 years, Germany’s voice has been loudest in setting European Union research and innovation policy. Now, a split decision by German voters on Angela Merkel’s successor throws into question what that policy will look like, and who will set it, write David Matthews and Fintan Burke for Science|Business.

In the aftermath of last Sunday’s vote, several names for German research minister were circulating among academic leaders. And a string of policy proposals, voiced on the campaign trail by the competing political families, are now getting closer scrutiny. They include suggestions for a new German innovation agency, a tougher line on China, more money for climate research, more job security for researchers, and much more.

At stake is the largest national R&D budget in the European Union – and one that, under 16 years of physicist-turned-politician Merkel, has steadily risen year after year. But which of these ideas become law depends on the coalition talks now underway in Berlin among the rival parties. And the fact remains that, for most voters, research was about the last thing on their minds when they went to the polls. “Higher education and research didn’t play a major role in all these debates. That’s a real pity,” said Frank Ziegele, executive director of Germany’s Centre for Higher Education.
Full report on the Science|Business site