Guideline 1: Strengthening an innovative Europe

With the National Action Plan, the German government is committed to an innovative Europe in which researchers work together to shape the transformation processes for a digital and sustainable Europe and create European added value.

Microchip on circuit board

Adobe Stock / Edelweiss

Europe’s innovative strength stems from the collaboration of excellent researchers in the European Research Area and must be intensified and expanded further. It is particularly important to accelerate the transfer of research into practice, to shape key technologies, and to contribute to solving global challenges by means of research and innovation. These urgent questions require European cooperation to lead the necessary transformation processes to success. Strong basic research, transfer-oriented applied research and targeted knowledge transfer are the backbone of German and European competitiveness, today and in the future.

Field of action 1 in support of an innovative Europe: shaping economic and social transformation through technological sovereignty

Our society is facing far-reaching changes. The geopolitical watershed (Zeitenwende) and the social transformation towards digital and technological sovereignty and sustainability require pro-active shaping. Excellent, evidence-led basic and applied research is the only way for us to keep the innovation pipeline filled and ensure that science-driven innovations and technological breakthroughs reach commercial maturity. This contributes to Germany’s and Europe’s competitiveness, as well as to overcoming these social challenges.

In the framework of the Action Plan for the European Research Area, the Federal Government wants to:

a) Ensure national and European research and innovation missions are mutually reinforcing

The EU missions bring together the activities in Horizon Europe to tackle major social challenges. In this context, the Federal Government will further enhance the way in which they interact with the national missions and priorities that are being implemented in the framework of the Future Research and Innovation Strategy. The Federal Government also wishes to raise the profile of the EU missions at the national, regional and local level, increase their visibility to the general public, and boost the involvement of further stakeholders, especially from the research community. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research will launch suitable networking and coordination measures to achieve this.

EU Missions in Horizon Europe until 2030

EU Missions in Horizon Europe until 2030


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b) Better align the focus of the application of new technologies through European coordination

With the aid of technological roadmaps on topics such as "circular industrial technologies" or "technologies in energy-intensive industries", the Federal Government is setting joint goals in the European Research Area and thus strengthening the connection between stakeholders from research and industry. By doing so, they want to help to shape and accelerate the digital and ecological transformation of European industry. To this end, the Federal Government will establish a continuous coordination process with industry, and better interlink national and European Research & Innovation support measures. They are also seeking to ensure closer European coordination on key issues for the future. For example, they wish to play a leading role in the further development of the European AI Strategy on the basis of the Ministry’s AI Action Plan and beyond.

c) Implement joint research priorities in Europe via European Partnerships

In close coordination with national, European and international partners in science, industry and politics, the Federal Government wants to use the European Partnerships to shape the research and innovation landscape in Europe, and thus effectively advance the development and use of new solutions and technologies in Europe. A national stakeholder forum for European Partnerships in Horizon Europe, which will provide a space for dialogue and cooperation between the partnership stakeholders, will enable Germany to leverage the full potential of the partnerships and continue to participate consistently in the European partnerships in line with political priorities.  

d) Ensure energy research is consistently focused on decarbonisation and well connected in Europe

Germany is pressing for the establishment of a European Hydrogen Union, and is actively contributing to this through the European Research Area pilot initiative on green hydrogen. Germany strives, including as part of the implementation of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) "Green Hydrogen", to expand and intensify bilateral and multilateral research cooperation on hydrogen within the EU. The new German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship programme "ERA Fellowships – Green Hydrogen" is also contributing to this.

German fusion research activities are already providing important findings for the potential use of fusion energy in power plants in future. Germany and its partners benefit greatly from European and international cooperation when it comes to fusion research. Recent advances have also sparked a new dynamism that is increasingly attracting private capital. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is examining the possibility of expanding its engagement to also look at novel conceptual and technological approaches, and thus further advance national and international fusion research.

e) Make better use of the potential of European research and technology infrastructures

High-performance research and technology infrastructures, such as supercomputers, information infrastructures, particle accelerators, or wind tunnels and testing facilities, make a decisive contribution to solving issues of vital importance for our future. Germany is supporting the further development and strengthening of the European research infrastructures landscape through bilateral and multilateral formats, in the framework of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and in the context of Horizon Europe. The Federal Government wants to make them more impactful for industry and society, facilitate access to these infrastructures, and work with European partners to pave the way for the next generation of research infrastructures. To this end, they want to set priorities at national level for the planning and implementation of major national and international research and technology infrastructures.

The Cherenkov Telescope Array - how joint investments in telescopes enable the exploration of the universe

How do stars form? What is dark matter? How do physical processes take place in the vicinity of black holes?

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is a globally unique construction project on three continents to answer these fundamental questions. The observatory for measuring high-energy gamma rays will consist of around 70 imaging photosensor telescopes. The initial construction costs amount to around 320 million euros. Federal funds, contributions from the scientific organisations MPG and DESY and various universities will flow in from the German side.

With two sites in the northern (La Palma, Spain) and southern hemisphere (Paranal/ESO, Chile), the headquarters (Bologna, Italy) and the scientific data centre (Zeuthen, Brandenburg), CTA is an example of a state-of-the-art research infrastructure that is only possible in close cooperation with European and international partners.

Cherenkov Telescope Array

Cherenkov Telescope Array


Field of action 2 in support of an innovative Europe: translating knowledge into applications across Europe

The successful development of the coronavirus vaccines has made clear how essential excellent basic research is for rapid and effective solutions to unforeseen challenges. The Federal Government wants to ensure that research is successfully translated into applications even more frequently, and wants to make full use of potential in Germany and Europe. The wealth of knowledge produced by German excellent basic research should reach practitioners and strengthen the options and expertise of industry and companies (including small and medium enterprises and start-ups) in relation to ground-breaking and market-creating innovations. Germany is seeking to ensure that national and European support for knowledge transfer is even better coordinated, interlinked and mutually reinforcing across all funding programmes and strategic approaches.

In the framework of the Action Plan for the European Research Area, the Federal Government wants to:

a) Intensify the translation of results into applications in all areas of research

By promoting better links between academic and industrial research, the Federal Government wants to ensure that knowledge and findings from across the entire spectrum of academic disciplines find their way into application and thus benefit society. Germany will develop a new concept for European knowledge transfer in order to better interlink and coordinate national and European measures in this area as well. This strategy should cover the entire development chain and provide targeted support for the individual development steps in order to successfully translate knowledge into applications.

b) Create a science-friendly legal framework in the EU

Germany is seeking to ensure a science-friendly and pro-innovation legal framework in the European Union. A tangible reduction in bureaucracy spurs creativity and progress and maintains the competitiveness of research and innovation in Germany and Europe. To this end, the Federal Government wants to achieve a more flexible, science-friendly interpretation of value-added tax (VAT) law, public benefit law and EU state aid rules. Within the EU legal framework, they want to create scope for living labs and take into consideration the specific conditions for start-ups. They are therefore seeking to ensure a regulatory framework which is limited to what is necessary and which is based on the latest scientific knowledge. To achieve this, the Federal Government will build on a continuous and structured dialogue with the scientific community.

c) Shaping European guidelines on creating value from knowledge

The Federal Government wants to establish joint, Europe-wide standards to speed up the process of translating knowledge into applications. To boost value creation from knowledge, the European Commission and the Member States have drawn up guiding principles and two codes of practice on smart use of intellectual property and standardisation. Germany is seeking to ensure that these codes of practice are applied and will make targeted and sustained efforts to raise their profile among the expert community.

d) Establish norms and regulatory standards in the interest of science

The Federal Government is promoting greater involvement of the scientific community in standardisation processes and the definition of best available techniques so that research approaches are integrated more rapidly into the state of the art, into industrial processes and into the regulatory framework. Legal provisions containing measuring, testing and assessment requirements relating to safety and sustainability will be continuously adapted to reflect the latest scientific findings and the need for regulation. To this end, the Federal Government will continue to develop a continuous and structured dialogue with the scientific community, industry and standardisation organisations at national and European level.