Innovation and new technologies are of vital importance for maintaining Germany's global competitiveness as base for business. An innovation-friendly policy environment, cutting-edge technologies, and broad-based innovation in German industry are essential for growth, job creation and prosperity over the long term.

Global challenges such as climate change open up important opportunities for investing in new technology that will help German companies remain global technological leaders in the future. Only those companies that consistently invest in research, innovation and skilled professionals will be able to retain their edge over their competitors from across the world.

Germany has a long tradition of being at the forefront of technological innovation. The Stifterverband (association for the promotion of science and the humanities in Germany) estimates that R&D expenditure in 2012 was equivalent to approx. 2.98% of Germany's GDP, which is one of the highest figures worldwide. The private sector accounts for roughly two-thirds of this spending. There are around 32,000 companies that constantly engage in R&D work and thereby create a positive environment for innovation. This is also reflected in the fact that goods that require a great deal of R&D work make up a comparatively high proportion of German exports.

In these activities, companies can draw on the expertise of numerous internationally renowned research institutes (such as the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Leibniz Association, and the research facilities governed by German ministries) and universities.

The latest rankings of innovations list Germany as one of the leading nations when it comes to innovation. However, competition in this area is becoming ever-more intense. Many countries - particularly China, South Korea and India, are catching up when it comes to developing sophisticated technology. If Germany wants to maintain and even improve its technological lead, it must redouble its efforts. Most importantly, it needs to further improve the policy environment for research and innovation. One of the things we need to do is attract more skilled professionals from across the world to live and work in Germany. Another is that we must provide better protection for proprietary rights attached to German technological products as well as better support for exports of these products.

Exporters of technology-related products already have access to a wide variety of government instruments designed to support foreign trade and investment, such as Hermes export credit guarantees and investment guarantees.

Germany Trade & Invest - the foreign trade and inward investment agency for the Federal Republic of Germany - plays a key role in these efforts by conducting international marketing activities to promote Germany as a place to do business and research and by providing German companies with comprehensive information on international markets and business opportunities.