German government policy: consistent support of industry
Although the companies themselves deserve most of the credit for the strength of German
manufacturing, the German government also plays a role in strengthening the country’s
The government’s official policy is to keep intervention to a minimum and to
allow companies to grow by reducing the regulatory burden. ‘Planungssicherheit’ and
‘ein günstiges Innovationsklima’ are key terms in government policy.
The High-Tech Strategy 2020 describes Germany’s priorities in the field of technology
during this decade. As part of that strategy, some sectors can be assisted with direct or
indirect subsidies during the start-up phase. For SMEs, for example, there is the ‘Zentrales
Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand’ (ZIM), which has provided more than € 3.1 billion to
promote technological development by the SME sector since mid-2008. A feature of
German policy is that the budget for the programme has been increased annually during
the economic crisis. The annual budget for the ZIM is now € 500 million, compared with
€ 300 million in 2008.
One of the central focal points of Germany’s High-Tech Strategy is energy. Germany leads the
world in the transition to sustainable energy generation through its ‘Energiewende’.