The impact of R&D investments during the crisis

How strong is the innovative power of German companies and how can the economy get successfully through this coronavirus crisis? // Two current surveys by the BDI and the Stifterverband deal with these questions // Results of the online surveys will be incorporated into future funding and economic recovery programmes // A look at the innovative power of the individual industry sectors shows: the automobile manufacturers continue to dominate the research landscape in Germany with 27.1 billion euros spent for R&D in 2018

1. BDI survey on the effects of COVID-19 on corporate R&D activities

The Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie – BDI) has launched an online survey on the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the R&D activities of researching companies. The results of this online survey are to be fed into the discussions about the details of the announced national economic recovery package and thus about the measures to be taken to promote R&D.

BDI interactiveOnline survey
The questionnaire (in German language only) will take a maximum of 10 minutes to work through and shall be completed by 07.06.2020. Your data will be aggregated and made completely anonymous.

The COVID 19 crisis has led to numerous challenges for German companies. In addition to the lockdown, which in some cases disrupts supply chains, the area of research and innovation is also affected. On the one hand, ongoing research projects, R&D cooperations or certain R&D phases cannot be carried out at all or only with difficulty. On the other hand, sales losses lead to liquidity restrictions - often at the expense of the R&D budget. With the present survey, the BDI aims to obtain an up-to-date picture of the situation in the R&D field of researching companies in Germany and, in addition, to find out whether and, if so, which public sector instruments and measures can make a positive contribution to increasing entrepreneurial R&D activities.


2. Science statistics of German Stifterverband: R&D Survey 2019

How much has German industry invested in research and development (R&D) in 2019 and thus in Germany's future viability? This is the question the Stifterverband's science statistics aim to answer with the 2019 online survey, which it is conducting on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The current survey on research and development (R&D) in industry in Germany was launched in spring 2020. Some 27,000 companies have received a questionnaire for this purpose. The companies contacted are asked about their R&D activities in the past year and their R&D planning for 2020.

The Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft  - R&D Survey 2019

The results of the R&D Survey 2018:
For the survey on research and development (R&D) in industry in Germany, about 2,000 companies were contacted and asked about their R&D deployment in 2018 and their planning for 2019. The main findings are:

  • In 2018, German industry invested a total of €72.1 billion in its own research and development (R&D). This is 4.8 percent more than a year earlier. Following the record year 2017, the increase in internal R&D expenditure is still considerable.
  • According to preliminary calculations by the Federal Statistical Office, the universities and the state also increased their R&D expenditure significantly. In 2018, Germany thus invested an estimated 3.13 percent of its economic output in research and development. This means that industry and the public sector have again achieved the target set by the Europe 2020 Strategy of spending three percent of a memebr states‘ gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development.
  • A look at the individual sectors shows: 27.1 billion, the automobile manufacturers continue to dominate the research landscape in Germany. However, the pharmaceutical, aerospace, electronics, information and communication sectors are showing above-average growth rates.

We know from past crises that the most important thing is to specifically promote the innovation activities of industry. While most companies in Germany adjust their R&D expenditure according to economic cycle and reduce R&D spending during recessions, around 34 per cent of German companies increased their innovation activities in a counter-cyclical way during the financial crisis of 2008/09. As a result, innovative companies were better able to cope with the consequences of the recession, according to a joint analysis by the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung - ZEW) and the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT). This is why the public sector, science and industry must continue to work together during the crisis to achieve the target of investing more than 3 percent of gross domestic product in research and development.


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