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On 8 February, the German Federal Government published its new research and innovation strategy: Zukunftsstrategie Forschung und Innovation. This strategy aims to provide a response to the multiple new and existing challenges ranging from climate change and digitalisation to the most recent geopolitical and energy crises. It seeks to make a breakthrough not only in strengthening Germany's innovation capacity but also in securing Europe’s technological sovereignty.
For this purpose, the strategy outlines three major goals that are accompanied by a range of milestones and priorities that will be guiding the country’s research and innovation (R&I) policy in the coming years: striving for technology leadership, advancing research transfer, and becoming more open to technology. The further development of the entire education sector as well as talent nurturing are considered among prerequisites for success.
The new strategic document pays tribute to European and international cooperation in the R&I field. Preference will be given to cooperation with countries with shared sets of values (esp. academic freedom and institutional autonomy). The German government will further sensitize research organisations to current threats and offer support to the implementation of risk-reducing measures to remain ‘as open as possible as close as necessary’, a broad principle that currently guides EU’s global approach to R&I cooperation.
Horizon Europe remains the key instrument for Germany’s collaboration on the EU scene whereas France is referred to as a key partner in the ongoing transformation processes. From a global perspective, Germany is striving to strengthen cooperation with the US and Canada, Latin America (esp. on global challenges), Israel, Africa and the Middle East (capacity-building of local research systems), as well as Eastern Partnership countries, particularly Ukraine (to strengthen links to the European Research Area). The R&I cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region will be pursued with ‘likeminded’ partner countries while the relations with China will be subject to evidence-based benefit and risk assessment (e.g. involving checks for critical technologies and reciprocal access to research data and infrastructure). Germany will follow the Team Europe approach in R&I cooperation with ‘challenging’ countries.
Internationalisation of German higher education institutions is one of the key priorities in the strategy. The German government intends to further promote incoming and outgoing student and researcher mobility in order to attract global talent and partnerships to country’s higher education institutions and research centers and to support the internationalisation of the German research system overall. A related target in this respect is the 15% share of academics and research staff recruited by German universities from abroad by 2025 (as compared to 13.3% in 2020).