Germany is among the world’s most highly developed industrialized countries and, together with China, is the third largest economy behind the US and Japan. With an export volume of around one trillion euro (2008), more than one third of its gross national income, Germany was the world’s largest exporter of goods until now. It spends roughly 2.5% of its GDP on research and development (R&D), far above the EU average. The German Government wants to increase spending on R&D to 3% of GDP by 2010. Investors and companies from Germany have registered more than 11.7% of global patents – making it third in the international league.
The Strategy for the Internationalization of Science and Research of 20 February 2008 is a response to the challenges of globalization. More than 90% of global know-how is generated outside Germany and has to be accessed for research in Germany. Germany has to shoulder greater international responsibility and contribute more of its know-how to international cooperation. Joint strategies and technologies for global challenges – such as climate change and energy efficiency – have to be drawn up.
This science policy, which is increasingly international in outlook, is being promoted within the scope of Germany’s foreign policy. The Federal Foreign Office and the just under 230 German missions abroad seek to make it easier for German research to access global centres of excellence and high-tech markets as well as background information on specific regions, to campaign effectively for Germany as a location for research and the recruitment of highly qualified personnel and to help build networks and strategic partnerships with foreign institutions. Geared towards the interests of Germany’s research community, countries such as China, India and Brazil are increasingly the focus of attention.
German missions abroad play a dual role in this: on the one hand, they are expected to make a key contribution towards ensuring that Germany has a high profile and, on the other, they have a key coordinating and service function. Despite the Internet and countless direct contacts among scientists, research institutions and companies, international agreements and support in making contacts remain indispensable. A growing number of science desk officers at key missions abroad in locations where there is a considerable measure of research activity are helping to identify synergies and avoid duplication (one example is the overview on the website of the German embassy in Pretoria).
German missions without their own science desk officer also do all they can to help ministries (the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, as well as the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development) by making available their knowledge of specific countries.
In order to ensure an optimal and coordinated presence and presentation of Germany, the activities of German academic, funding and cultural organizations, of higher education institutions as well as companies with a strong research focus in important partner countries have to be coordinated and – where possible – pooled by establishing German Science and Innovation Fora. As a showcase for German research, their function is to enhance the profile and accessibility of German universities and research institutions and, not least, to increase the efficiency of work on the ground (also in cooperation with representations of German business and culture). The Federal Foreign Office has begun developing German Science and Innovation Fora at five locations – São Paulo, Moscow, Tokyo, New Delhi und New York. Following the pilot phase, which will last for about another two years, the Federal Foreign Office is keen to include further key locations.
With a view to enhancing Germany’s position in the international competition for young scientists, the Government, federal states, science community, business and other organizations have joined forces to form a Joint Initiative on “International marketing to promote study, research and training in Germany”. Germany has to be a top address for those wanting to make a career in education or research. In countries with scientific and technology resources of strategic importance it is crucial to be particularly visible. For these countries have considerable development dynamics and are the major markets of the future. Germany’s image as one of the best locations for research investment and services must be cultivated and underpinned by practical measures which focus on the perception of Germany abroad.
The English-language umbrella portal www.research-in-germany.de serves as a central information platform; it is edited on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Within the Federal Foreign Office, cooperation with universities as part of research and academic relations policy is dealt with by the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication and not by the Directorate-General for Economic Affairs.
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