Wissenschaftlerin im Labor


Technologies of the future

When it comes to patents, Germany is still at the head of the European pack – but is facing growing pressure as a technology nation. These were the findings of a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Whether 3D printing, the 5G standard, or energy storage: those who are innovating in these key future technologies are advancing social progress and international competitiveness.

The Bertelsmann Foundation has taken a closer look at the innovative strength of a number of countries. In its study “World-class patents in future technologies – The innovative strength of East Asia, North America, and Europe”, the Foundation looks at particularly significant patents (“world-class patents”) in 58 future technologies and shows how the innovative strength of major economies and world regions changed between 2000 and 2019. The findings: the innovative potential is shifting – to the detriment of Europe and Germany.

In 2010, Germany was still one of the three nations with the most world-class patents in 47 out of 58 technologies. In 2019, this figure was only 22 out of 58 technologies. Two of the traditionally strong fields – industry and mobility – are among those affected. However, when it comes to vaccine technology, which is so crucial globally, Germany is the country with the second most world-class patents.

World-class patents in future technologies: Which nation is leading?

The United States is still leading the way in almost all future technologies. Europe can rely on some of its strengths, for example in wind power and functional food, but China and South Korea are catching up – or have already overtaken Europe – in many fields. This is heightening the pressure on Germany and Europe.

“Europe needs a clear political commitment to a common initiative. Competition is not taking place within European countries or their organizations. The competition is clearly coming from Asia and the USA,” says Brigitte Mohn, member of the Bertelsmann Foundation Executive Board. Given this situation, she believes that a pan-European innovation platform would be a clear sign that innovation is taken seriously as the basis for the future viability and sustainability of the European economies and societies.

(Header: Gorodenkoff – AdobeStock)