2024-07-01 VDE dialog

To-do list for the German federal government

In areas ranging from social science to engineering, the six-member Expert Commission for Research and Innovation (EFI) has been monitoring innovation research in Germany since 2008. The EFI submits a report to the federal government once a year, most recently at the end of February.

For 2024, the commission praised everything that had been set in motion, but was not sparing with its criticism: “We lack a narrative on what the future should look like in 10, 20 or 30 years,” said EFI chair Uwe Cantner. In addition to the further development of real-world laboratories, the commission called for progress in the following areas.

Facilitating knowledge transfer:

The German science system is weak when it comes to commercially oriented spin-offs. The EFI is campaigning for changes that would make it easier and less expensive for start-ups to obtain patents from universities. These could include model contracts and incentives over and above short-term revenues. The future German Agency for Transfer and Innovation (DATI) is to help accelerate such spin-offs.

Bringing military and civilian research together:

GPS, the Internet and rocket technology are all technologies that were originally developed for military use, but have been used no less successfully in civilian life. The EFI wants to break down the strict separation of research areas in Germany. The Agency for Innovation in Cybersecurity is cited as a positive example.

Continuing improvement of the research bonus:

The EFI rates the 2020 reform of the research bonus as positive. Nevertheless, there is still room for optimization. The administrative burden should be reduced, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, there is no good overview of the effects of the bonus. Are companies actually increasing their research and development expenditures thanks to this subsidy?

Using patents more easily:

Standard essential patents (SEPs) are the basis of many technological developments – including in connection with the 5G mobile communications standard, for example. According to the EFI, however, these patents are still not transparent for potential users. This is slowing down license negotiations, and thus further deployment. The EFI therefore believes that the EU Commission's approach of regulating this market on the basis of guidelines and a register makes sense.

Link to the EFI's annual report for 2024 (in German)

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