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Ministry proposes €10bn innovation programme

German research minister Karliczek says funding pot can help companies pull through Covid-19 crisis

A €10 billion investment programme proposed by the German research ministry is meant to support innovative companies and research institutions which might struggle under the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The so-called activation programme will contribute financially to innovations around export technologies, medicine and infrastructure in education and research. Small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up the bulk of German companies, will be a priority under the programme, said research minister Anja Karliczek.

“The deep economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic call for a response that goes beyond emergency aid,” she said, adding that the government was likely to back her proposal. “We want to come out of the crisis stronger than we came in.”

Germany should aim to extend its role as a supplier to the world in new areas of export growth, Karliczek said, identifying “green hydrogen” as one example. Another focus should be set on artificial intelligence. Karliczek also spoke out in support of increasing incentives for research in mid-sized companies through an expansion of tax deductions for R&D.

The proposed activation programme will include financial aid for scientific and education infrastructure, and for medical research. The Covid-19 outbreak had shown the advantages of Germany’s health care and health research systems, Karlizcek said.

“No country in the world has done so well in the crisis as we have,” she said. Germany, a county of 80 million, has registered just 183,000 infections and 8,600 deaths under the pandemic that swept the globe in the first half of 2020. 

To build upon these strengths, Karlizcek proposed investments in personalised medicine and digitalisation. “We want to become the world’s pharmacy,” she said, adding that strengthening pharmaceutical research would be a priority under the German presidency of the EU council, which commences in July.