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Topic - Digitisation

Taking control of the digital transformation

Introduction

Digitalisation is in full swing. It is a global trend that is transforming all parts of our lives. The digital transformation offers tremendous potential for improving people’s quality of life, for creating revolutionary business models and for doing business more efficiently. By providing a favourable framework and targeted funding schemes, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy aims to harness the potential offered by digitalisation and to successfully master any new challenges that may arise, thus taking control of the digital transformation.

As of now, there are more than 20 billion devices and machines which are connected via internet; in 2030, this figure will rise to half a trillion. Digitalisation and interconnectedness can be an engine for growth and prosperity. The digital economy in Germany is not only an important industrial and technology sector, it also helps speed up the digitalisation within companies, the world of work and society.

Digital skills are key for the competitiveness of companies, particularly for SMEs. These companies therefore require particular assistance and support. In industry, digitalisation helps develop smart production procedures that lead to higher productivity and efficiency. The buzzword used to describe this trend is Industrie 4.0. Industrie 4.0 makes it possible to not only meet customers’ individual needs, but also to develop entirely new industrial products and business models.

Policies for a digital society

Adopting modern internet policies means adopting fair and simple rules for digitalisation that ensure that consumers’ rights relating to the digital world can be enforced and that individuals and companies can harness the social and economic potential offered by digitalisation. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has adopted a number of important internet policy initiatives and regulatory measures in order to ensure that individuals and companies can share in the benefits of technological progress and that funding is provided for new innovations. Click here to find out more about internet policies.

Taking control of the digital economy

Digitalisation leads not only to the creation of new products and services, but also to the disruption of traditional market concepts. By adopting the 9th amendment of the Act against Restraints of Competition on 28 September 2016, the Federal Government improved the regulatory framework governing abuse of market power and mergers. This amendment takes account of the particularities of digital markets, thereby providing effective protection against abuse of market power and guaranteeing effective control of mergers. Find out more (in German).

We must actively manage digital transformation and introduce new, future-oriented rules governing the digital economy, the sharing economy and digital platforms (in German). In order to ensure that there is fair competition between these platforms and established market players the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has launched a broad-based discussion process. A first outcome of this process was the publication of the White Paper on Digital Platforms which – based on the discussion – sets out clear proposals for digital regulatory policy. There are two aspects that are of key importance: First of all, we ought to make sure to generate inclusive growth. This can be achieved by creating a level playing field for investment and innovation. Secondly, we must protect people's personal rights and data sovereignty. Go to de.digital to find out more (in German).

Facts and figures on digitalisation

27
Symbolicon für Bürogebäude in Deutschland

Percentage of commercial enterprises
that are already highly digitalised (2016)

1,4
Symbolicon für Eurostapel

Turnover in billion euros
that German companies generated by selling big data solutions in 2015

3,1
Symbolicon für Scheck

Amount in billion euros
that businesses and individuals invested in start-ups in 2015

51
Symbolicon für Sicherheit

Percentage of German companies
that have already fallen victim to cyber crime

Strategies for the digital transformation

A framework that takes account of the digital strategies of tomorrow

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly digital and interconnected. This development is having a direct impact on our everyday lives, on the way we interact with others, on our work, and on our participation in society. We want to take control of this development by providing the right regulatory framework and strategies for our future.

The Digital Agenda 2014-2017, which was adopted by the Federal Government in summer 2014, serves as the government’s road map for implementing digital policies in cooperation with the business community, the social partners, civil society and academia. Over the last three years, the Federal Government has undertaken key measures to meet the goals set out by the Digital Agenda. These measures include the adoption of funding programmes for the expansion of high-performance, nation-wide broadband networks, the launch of additional digitisation projects, the adoption of the IT Security Act and Plattform Industrie 4.0.

On 26 April 2017, the Federal Government adopted its 2014-2017 Report on the Digital Agenda. The report is outlining the progress achieved on digital policy in the last three years. It shows that, in many areas, Germany is well-prepared for the digital future. You can find detailed information about the Digital Agenda here.

Making a success of the digital transformation in Germany

At the 2016 CeBIT fair, former Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel presented the Digital Strategy 2025. This strategy sets out important measures and policy instruments that Germany will need to deploy in this legislative term and beyond in order to make a success of the digital transformation.

German administrations also need to keep pace with the digital transformation. For this purpose, the federal government announced to "provide online the 100 most important and frequently used administrative services throughout the country in a uniform manner". The study entitled "Top 100 – the most important and frequently used administrative services for businesses” (PDF, 400KB), which was presented in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 5 July 2017, identifies the most important interactions between businesses and administrations of around 5,500 administrative services – i.e. those administrative services that are frequently used by businesses, result in high compliance costs and have huge digitalisation potential. The study is available for download here (PDF, 400KB).

Guidelines for a digital policy that benefits all

Digitisation is transforming the way we live, communicate, work, do business, and consume. This transformation is not limited to technology and our economy – it is affecting the whole of society. What can we do to prevent digital platforms dominating the market? Will digitisation mean that there will be more or fewer jobs in the future? Do we need an external body to monitor algorithms and self-learning systems? These three questions are examples highlighting the issues we need to deal with in the digital age – issues that concern us all and that we need work on together if we want digitisation to be shaped fairly for the benefit of consumers, businesses and employees.

This is why, in June 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection adopted a number of political guidelines setting out how the digital transformation can be shaped for the benefit of businesses, employees and consumers, and drawing up several key fields of action and requirements that digital policy needs to take into account. More information about this can be found here.

The White Paper on Digital Platforms lays down principles for a digitalisation ‘Made in Europe’

Digital platforms have emerged as driving forces for economic development in both Germany and Europe. In order to ensure that there is fair competition between these platforms and established market players, we are seeking to develop a digital ordo-liberal policy. There are two aspects that are of key importance here: First of all, we ought to make sure to generate inclusive growth. This can be achieved by creating a level playing field for investment and innovation. Secondly, we must protect people's personal rights and data sovereignty. The White Paper on Digital Platforms, which sets out specific ideas for digital ordo-liberal policies, is an important step towards achieving these goals. The White Paper also sets out ideas for policies to be implemented at European level as digitalisation does not stop at national borders. Go to de.digital to find out more.

Digital Summit: the central platform for developing digital policies

The Digital Summit (formerly called National IT Summit) is the central platform for stakeholders involved in the digital transformation. The most recent Summit meeting was held in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region from 12 to 13 June 2017. The meeting focused on digital health, on the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region as a model region for smart networking and on the digital transformation of businesses and the administration.

Boosting business through smart networking

Smart networking means the systematic and extensive digital networking of existing infrastructure, information and persons in a number of important sectors. The programme helps drive forward the processes of digitalisation (e.g. through smart meters, e-health services, e-learning, e-government, smart homes, smart cities, e-participation, and age-appropriate support systems for living a self-determined life), roll these out nation-wide, and harness the potential offered by digitalisation in a number of key sectors including education, energy, healthcare, transport and public administration. In March 2015, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched the Smart Networks Initiative – a central coordination and advice centre for smart networking. Find out more.

High-speed networks are key

Good networks and internet connections are key for driving forward digitalisation. As digitalisation picks up speed, we need to to ensure that our data networks deliver the capacity, availability and latency required. These networks serve as the basis for a digitised society and smart networking. A lot has been achieved over the last few years: more than 70 per cent of German households have access to 50 mbps connections and LTE has been swiftly expanded. There has been a great response to the Federal Government’s broadband funding programme. In order to account for the more demanding requirements that need to be met in the context of Industrie 4.0 (Internet of Things, Big Data) and smart networking (for example e-health, e-government, smart cities), we need to further update our broadband connections: we need gigabit networks that deliver high speed downloads and uploads, we need reliable real-time transmission of data and high-quality internet services. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is stepping up its efforts to ensure that such gigabit networks will be established in Germany by 2025. It has proposed a number of specific measures under its Digital Strategy 2025 (such as establishing a fund for future investment in rural areas and a legal framework that is conducive to investment and innovation).

Driving forward digital inclusion and skills development

Digitisation is particularly affecting the areas of knowledge, education and training: our job roles will be fundamentally transformed. This means that a special focus needs to be placed on digital inclusion and education. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the ‘D21 Digital Index’, which is the most relevant study for assessing to what extent Germany has been digitised so far.

The focus is no longer exclusively on helping people gain access to the internet, but on securing an adequate supply of skilled workers and on digital integration. At the 2016 National IT Summit, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy presented a paper on digital education outlining how digital learning and skills development are to be enshrined across the entire education chain.

Publications

Keyvisual zu G20, Symboldbild für Digitalisierung; Quelle: iStock.com/Yakobchuk

© iStock.com/Yakobchuk

DE.Digital

To the website

SMEs--small and medium-sized enterprises Digital

Driving forward the digital transformation in small and medium-sized enterprises

New software solutions, Industrie 4.0 applications, standardised e-business processes and digital networking provide SMEs and skilled crafts businesses with a wide range of opportunities for developing new products and services. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is using targeted awareness-raising campaigns, information and qualification events in order to support SMEs and skilled crafts businesses and to make the best possible use of the potential of digitalisation.

Digitalisation and networking are increasingly affecting all parts of a business – from products and services to working, production and communication processes. SMEs need to face up to this development, harness the opportunities and master the challenges linked to it in order to keep their business viable and competitive in the long term.

Under our Mittelstand Digital programme, we provide a large amount of information material about the different issues linked to digitalisation, best practice examples, checklists and films in order to help businesses answer the following questions: How can digital solutions benefit my company? How can I implement these solutions? What have other businesses learned during the implementation process? We provide a wide range of information materials about the different issues linked to digitalisation as well as ebst practice examples, checklists and films.

The Mittelstand 4.0 centres of excellence show how digitalisation, innovative networking solutions and Industrie 4.0 applications are used in the daily business practice

The Mittelstand 4.0 centres of excellence, which are located all across Germany, and the centre of excellence for digital skilled crafts, that features four showcases, help SMEs and skilled crafts businesses obtain practical and easy-to-understand information on digital technologies and Industrie 4.0 applications by organising events, workshops, publishing guidelines and conducting information sessions. These centres feature a number of learning factories and demonstrators that help companies get some first-hand experience on digital solutions. Companies and their employees are provided a testing environment in which experts help them to familiarise themselves with the latest technology, test their own technical solutions and run simulations of modern working scenarios without having to make any major investment.

In addition to the Mittelstand 4.0 centres, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy also provides funding for four Mittelstand 4.0 agencies that focus on four areas of digitalisation and e-business, namely trade, cloud computing, processes and communication. These agencies provide information and expertise on how new technologies can be used by SMEs to multipliers across Germany. These include the chambers of industry and commerce, business associations and the Mittelstand 4.0 centres of excellence.

Helping companies obtain advice on IT

Under the ‘go digital’ model project, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy helps SMEs obtain advice on digitalisation. Funding is available for using advisory services offered by licenced external service providers on ‘IT security’, ‘internet marketing’ and ‘digital business processes’. The services provided range from an initial analysis all the way to the implementation of specific measures in the company. Under this model project, funding is currently provided for companies based in the Ruhr region and in Saxony (including the Halle area). The model project ends on 31 December 2016. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy aims to expand the ‘go digital’ model project into a nation-wide programme starting spring 2017.

Innovative Start-ups

Start-ups are driving digitalisation

Young companies are highly innovative and thus substantially drive forward the digital transformation. Start-ups are willing to take risks, they are dynamic and flexible. They develop digital solutions and business models that can be quickly scaled up. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has undertaken a number of important steps in order to support young start-up entrepreneurs as they go through the capital-intensive growth stage.

New tools for funding venture capital

Thanks to the creation of the coparion co-investment fund, the ERP/EIF growth facility worth 500 million euros, the topped-up ERP/EIF fund of funds and the European Angels Fund, more venture capital is now available for young, innovative companies. The ERP/EIF fund-of-funds invests in venture capital funds which then invest in technology firms that are in their early or growth stages. The European Angels Fund co-finances investments made by selected and experienced business angels.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is preparing the launch of its third High-Tech Start-Up Fund for the first half of 2017. The fund – which will be worth around 300 million euros – provides young, fast growing technology companies with some initial financing. In the future, a special focus will be placed on attracting medium-sized companies as investors.

The INVEST funding programme will be enhanced. We are envisaging doubling the maximum investment sum for which funding can be claimed, raising it to 500,000 euros, and introducing an exit grant worth 25 per cent of the profit made from the sale of a business.

Detailed information about the funding and financing instruments that exist can be found in the SME financing section.

Bringing together start-ups and supporting their internationalisation

Many large German cities are currently seeing the creation of regional digital hubs that bring together representatives of start-ups, academia, SMEs and industry. In order to support these hubs, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has launched the German Digital Hub initiative. This initiative is to help the German hubs to better connect with one another and to make them more widely known around the globe. To make this happen, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will set up a hub networking agency and raise awareness for how to attract start-up entrepreneurs, young companies, skilled workers and investors from abroad. More information about the initiative can be found under www.de-hub.digital (in German).

In the long run, most digital start-ups are successful only if they internationalise their activities and look beyond national and European borders. The German Accelerator provides access to comprehensive mentoring and coaching services in the US for German start-ups and young entrepreneurs in the life sciences, the technology sector and the digital economy.

In addition, exchange programmes that meet the specific needs of businesses help pave the way for success. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy assists German start-ups to develop new markets by funding exchange programmes of the German Startups Association, including the German Israeli Start-up Exchange Program (GISEP) and the German Indian Start-up Exchange Program (GINSEP).

Engaging in dialogue with start-ups and launching competitions

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has been organising a series of start-up nights that help link up start-ups with established companies. Young companies can showcase their business ideas to large corporations and SMEs and to get into conversation. This makes it possible for the well-established firms to pick up on innovative ideas for their companies and for young entrepreneurs to benefit from other companies’ experience. In order to boost the number of high-tech start-ups that are being created in Germany, the Ministry has also redesigned the ‘Digital innovations’ competition for business start-ups. The competition helps potential start-up entrepreneurs by providing them with advice and capital, and by linking them up with established companies and potential investors.

In the context of the ‘Young Digital Economy’ Advisory Board, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has established a direct and practical dialogue between the young German start-up scene and policy-makers. The Advisory Board gives the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy advice particularly on the development and potential of the young digital economy and on new digital technologies in Germany, and on how to provide start-ups with a better environment in which to grow.

Funding new Technology

State-of the art digital technology – from the research lab all the way to the market

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s funding programmes for digital technologies provide important stimulus for transferring scientific findings into state-of-the-art technology that can be sold on the market.

Under its ‘development of digital technologies’ portfolio, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy provides funding for pre-commercial research and development projects. The aim of this work is to pick up on key ICT trends at an early stage and to accelerate the process of transferring scientific findings into marketable state-of-the-art technology with high-level potential for practical applications.

There are a wide range of funding priorities: The smart data programme helps fund projects in the areas of industry, mobility, energy and healthcare in which innovative, secure big data solutions that can be widely used are developed.

The PAiCE – Digital technologies for business funding programme addresses forward-looking technology fields such as product engineering, logistics, service robotics, industrial 3D applications, industrial communication and projects that cut across several of these fields. Bringing together scientific networks and excellent medium-sized companies in an efficient way is to help speed up the transfer of creative ideas and scientific findings into practical applications.

Under the Smart Service World I and II programmes, funding is provided for projects that seek to develop smart services that can be used in many of different areas of our lives and across all business sectors.

Under the Trusted Cloud funding programme, a particular focus is placed on cloud services. The programme aims to build trust for cloud-based solutions among companies – for example by introducing unified and transparent criteria for assessment.

An overview of the programmes that received funding up until 2015 can be found here (only in German).

Tablet and road infrastructure; Source: stockphoto.com/ martin-dm

© stockphoto.com/ martin-dm

Smart networking

Go to Topic

Security and Standards

Providing for secure digital services that users can trust

As our economy and society become ever more digitised and interconnected, ensuring data security and adopting reliable standards becomes ever more important.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy wants to ensure that small and medium-sized companies can protect themselves against cyber threats and that they can fully share in the benefits of the digital transformation.

Strengthening IT security in companies

As part of its ‘T Security in Commerce’ initiative, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy constantly develops new and specific measures that help raise awareness for IT security among businesses, particularly SME.

A special focus is placed on optimising the regulatory framework and on strengthening the IT security sector at both national and European level. One of the key challenges in this regard is providing information about the security standard of IT products by issuing quality labels or certificates. In September 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy conducted a scientific study into this subject. This study seeks to determine the extent to which small and medium-sized enterprises use certificates and quality labels to inform users about the security of their own products and services. In addition, the study seeks to find out how important IT security is for users as a criterion for selecting third-party products and services.

Reliable data protection in the cloud

Cloud services are central to the digital transformation of the economy. This platform lists only those cloud services which meet the criteria of the Trusted Cloud Label – i.e. which are trustworthy and meet the requirements for transparency, security, quality and compliance with the law. The label was the result of the work undertaken in the context of the Trusted Cloud technology programme, which was launched in 2010 with the aim to develop innovative and secure cloud computing solutions, particularly for SMEs. The programme ended in 2015.

Unified standards for Industrie 4.0

The close networking of technologies and value chains allows for an intensive exchange of data and therefore the creation of more interfaces. This means that unified standards are crucial for Industrie 4.0. You can find out more about this here.

Boosting competition by adopting unified and open standards

Ensuring that our information and telecommunications technologies are both standardised and interoperable is important not only technologically, but also from a business perspective. Standards offer a competitive edge in global competition to those who develop and enforce them. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy places a strong focus on open standards and interoperability in order to not only guarantee that complex ICT systems function flawlessly, but also in order to make sure that there is unrestricted access to the ICT markets and to free competition.

Woman in front of a monitor; Quelle: Getty Images/Bloomberg

© Getty Images/Bloomberg

Industrie 4.0

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International Digital Policy

Creating a European and global framework for the digitalisation

Industrie 4.0 and the digital economy are issues that cannot be addressed by one single country. It is necessary to share knowledge, adopt unified standards and harmonise regulatory frameworks so that companies around the world can remain competitive and work together.

Digital policy input provided by the German G20 presidency

Germany took over the G20 Presidency on 1 December 2016. One of the key areas of focus was on digitalisation as a key element for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the world economy. Under the German Presidency, the ministers responsible for the digital economy in the G20 countries discussed the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation and developed proposals for action. The Digital Ministers’ Meeting focused on three key areas: the interactions between digitalisation, economic growth and employment; trust, confidence and transparency in the digital economy; and Industrie 4.0 and the future of standards and standardisation. In the final ministerial declaration and a roadmap (available in English), they identified eleven key fields of digital policy and agreed on a specific way forward for the future work of the G20

More information on digitalisation under the German G20 presidency can be found here.

The Digital Single Market

The digital economy and trade do not stop at national borders. Creating a European Digital Single Market therefore is the only way that ensures that companies can provide products and services that are based on the same rules and standards across the entire European Union. On 6 May 2015, the European Commission presented its Digital Single Market Strategy. The German government awaits with considerable interest the proposals that will be announced by the European Commission and will take an active and constructive approach to the European Commission's strategy.

On 13 December 2016, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, the then French President François Hollande, Sigmar Gabriel, the then Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Michel Sapin, the French Minister for Economic Affairs, met at the Franco-German digital conference under the headline of “Joining together to drive forward the digital transformation of our economies”. The conference focused on the digital transformation of industry, on supporting innovative start-ups that boost growth and job creation, on better cooperation on security issues, particularly in the area of cloud services, and on European and international cooperation on providing a free and secure flow of information, particularly by strengthening the European standardisation system. The final declaration on “Joining together to drive forward the digital transformation of our economies” set out the priorities for cooperation in the digitalisation of the economy. Further information can be found here (in German).

European General Data Protection Regulation

The new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the data protection directive from 1995. It is to provide modern answers as our economy and society become ever more digitised. The GDPR provides an up-to-date set of European data protection rules that help find answers to how to keep data safe in an age marked by big data and new methods and types of data processing such as profiling, web tracking and cloud computing.

Internet governance

Internet governance covers a large number of different fields, ranging from web domain registration rules, global IP-Internet protocol address allocation to general questions about the level of openness or stability and the web. The Federal Government provides input on internet governance via a number of international bodies and organisations.

Franco-German Digital Conference

Further information

  • 06/10/2017 - Press release - Digitisation

    Press release: Economic Affairs Ministry moots better ways of coordinating digitalisation policy and potential establishment of digital agency.

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  • 07/04/2017 - Press release - Digitisation

    Press release: Zypries: „G20 Digital Ministers adopt joint roadmap for digitalisation“

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  • 06/04/2017 - Press release - Digitisation

    Press release: Zypries: “We want everybody to reap the benefits of digitalisation”

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  • 21/03/2017 - Press release - Funding of SMEs

    Press release: Zypries awards prizes to digital start-ups at CeBIT

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  • 18/01/2017 - Press release - European Economic Policy

    Press release: German-Italian Business Conference: Digitisation and Investment First

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  • 12/01/2017 - Press release - Digitisation

    Press release: The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the OECD kick off G20 digital ministers' process with a conference on "Key Issues for Digital Transformation in the G20"

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Computer chip and gas fiber, symbolic of digitisation; Source: Getty Images / Rafe Swan