German R&D spending hits record high | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 12.12.2016
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German R&D spending hits record high

Germany has considerably raised its spending on research and development, a fresh study has found. It said the nation's overall investment in R&D reached a new high last year, with the auto industry being a key driver.

The German government and companies across Europe's power house spent a record sum on research and development last year, a study released by Germany's Stifterverband (a nationwide business initiative of companies and foundations) said Monday.

It said German companies invested roughly 62.4 billion euros ($66.2 billion) in R&D throughout 2015, marking a 9.5-percent increase in spending from a year earlier.

The survey identified the national car industry as the biggest driver behind that development, saying that auto manufacturers alone accounted for 21.7 billion euros in R&D spending.

"You have to bear in mind the huge challenges the automotive sector is confronted with," said Stiftungsverband's Gero Stenke. "E-mobility and autonomous driving are not completely new …, but the auto industry is under increasing pressure and is trying to keep international competitors in check."

In good company

Chemicals companies also increased their investments by 6 percent, the study noted. It added that the trend toward more spending on research and development had also been supported by the nation's small and medium-sized enterprises with a workforce of fewer than 250 employees. SMEs upped their R&D spending by a staggering 16 percent in 2015 year on year.

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"We've been witnessing considerable changes in the sector of late," said Stenke. "There's a tendency of fewer and fewer SMEs focusing on innovation, but those which do seem to be doing it full-on."

German Research Minister Johanna Wanka said that was a very gratifying development following years of stagnation. "Research is key to Germany's strong position as a location for tech companies."

The figures provided by the Stifterverband mean that for the first time ever Germany reached its objective of spending at least 3 percent of it annual GDP on R&D.


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