The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board gives the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy first-hand advice on current issues of the digital transformation. The focus is on the development and potential of the young digital economy and new digital technologies in Germany. In view of the dynamism of the digital economy, the board is organised in a flexible and open manner. It aims to facilitate a direct and practical dialogue between policy makers and the young German digital and start-up community.
The digital economy is a key sector for the future of Germany’s economy. The major innovations in the digital economy around the world are sparked off by new, fast-growing IT firms. Germany also has a vibrant start-up scene with a lot of potential. It creates highly-qualified and forward-looking jobs, and is a driving force for innovation across large sections of Germany’s economy. The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board feeds thematic comments and recommendations for action into its practical expertise with a view to shaping a forward looking environment for the digital sector in Germany and Europe.
Focus on current issues
The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board focuses on current issues and produces comments on them.
- Europe needs a digital boost from Germany and France
The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and France’s Conseil national du numérique (CNNum) share the belief that France and Germany in particular need to work together to give a fresh boost to the development of a digital Europe. In a joint letter to Germany’s Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire, they therefore call for the holding of a third Franco-German Digital Conference following the ones in Paris in 2015 and in Berlin in 2016.
- Artificial intelligence
The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board welcomes the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy announced by the Federal Government, but urges that it be implemented thoroughly, since the use of AI applications in industry, in corporate, process and product data, is still in its comparative infancy. For this reason, it is now necessary to roll out the €3 billion programme quickly and to prioritise the series of planned measures. In this regard, the Young Digital Economy Advisory Board proposes prioritising the elements set out in its position paper as a rapid three-pillar programme for the AI Strategy and to revisit the design of the announced measures.
The Advisory Board has produced a position paper on regulation. It finds that it is not possible to divide regulation into “black and white” or “good and bad”: regulation can be both a help and a hindrance, and particularly with regard to digital start-ups there is a need to examine each individual case, because it is very easy here to achieve the opposite of what was intended. The paper says that it is crucial that rules are not shaped as prohibitions which stifle Germany’s own digital players, but rather deliver an incentive for greater entrepreneurial activity within and beyond the digital industry. Against this background, the Advisory Board has collected examples of where regulation appears useful in terms of young digital start-ups and where this is not the case.
- Fostering digital innovation
The Advisory Board has produced a position paper on the “German Foundation for Digital Innovation”. It says that the success of digitisation in Germany, and thus “the” economic factor for the future. will depend, also for our start-ups, on whether we keep people on board, address their fears appropriately rather than stoking them, and place the focus on the benefits of digital innovations. For this reason, digitisation needs to be shaped in such a way that all 82 million people in Germany benefit from it. The Advisory Board therefore proposes the establishment of a national foundation to foster digital innovation – along the lines of Nesta in the UK. This German Foundation for Digital Innovation should support new ideas which can use digital technologies to address the big three societal issues: resources, ecology and health, and help people to experience what benefits they can deliver.
eHealth, or digital health, involves the evolutionary merging of medical knowledge with IT solutions to maintain and improve human health. The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board issued a position paper on 13 June 2017 calling for the 2017 Digital Summit to establish adequate funding programmes and certification procedures, particularly in response to the needs of innovative eHealth start-ups.
Digital education forms the basis for the digital age! For this reason, the Young Digital Economy Advisory Board calls in its comments of 14 November 2016 for more teaching of digital skills in schools and in higher education.
Following its meeting in Berlin on 29 September 2015, the Young Digital Economy Advisory Board called for the rising number of refugees to be regarded as an opportunity, particularly for the digital industry.
- Net neutrality
In its comments of 2 November 2015, the Advisory Board calls for the upholding of net neutrality - particularly so that online start-ups do not suffer technical, access-related or financial disadvantages compared with their established rivals delivering digital business models.
- On 6 September 2017, the Young Digital Economy Advisory Board presented a paper of recommendations for the 19th legislative term to former Economic Affairs Minister Brigitte Zypries. In it, the members propose improvements in the general policy environment for young digital start-ups.
- In October 2015 and December 2016, the Young Digital Economy Advisory Board and its French counterpart, the Conseil national du numérique (CNNum), presented an Action Plan for Digital Innovation and Digital Transformation in Europe, and also the Paper entitled “Digitalisation is key for Europe” to the then ministers Gabriel and Sapin. Whilst the Action Plan offers suggestions on how to strengthen an internationally competitive European digital industry, the catalogue of measures contains six specific proposals for a common digital single market in Europe.
- The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board launched its nationwide campaign on 15 September 2014 to raise the profile of women entrepreneurs and encourage others to follow their example.
Composition of the Advisory Board: from digital start-ups to investors
The members of the Advisory Board are company founders and young IT entrepreneurs from the start-up community, representatives of established information and communication technology (ICT) companies, and investors. They can draw on particular expertise and experience in the field of the digital economy and have already gained a reputation as experts with profound experience and expertise in the start-up scene. Membership of the Board is a personal honorary office; deputies may not participate.
Prof. Dr. Tobias Kollmann, professor for eBusiness and eEntrepreneurship at Duisburg-Essen University, chairs the Advisory Board. The chair serves as an important intermediary between government and the digital sector in Germany.