The business community and policymakers seek to ensure that Germany’s maritime industry is structurally strong and that it can harness its full potential.
2025 maritime research strategy
The Economic Affairs Ministry’s 2025 maritime research strategy is strengthening the maritime sector by providing funding for research and development. The research strategy covers the entire spectrum of ship, production, shipping and maritime technology. This permits cooperation along the entire value chain. In the case of shipbuilding, for example, this ranges from the suppliers to the shipyards and the ship operators. In this way, large parts of the maritime industry throughout Germany benefit from support as they pursue their longer-term goals.
The research strategy consists of two funding measures.
The maritime research programme covers the entire range of technology in the sector. The focus is on research and development, particularly in terms of environmental compatibility and the mobility transition, the use of digital technology, maritime safety and security, and the development of maritime resources.
The line of funding entitled “real-time technology for maritime safety and security” provides targeted support for innovative real-time technologies to boost civilian maritime safety and security.
The funding for maritime research provided by the Economic Affairs Ministry is fostering progress. Breakthroughs in the development of alternative fuels for maritime applications (e.g. methanol), in the maintenance of offshore wind farms, and in efficient manufacture of one-off products are just a few examples. From 2011 to 2017, the Economic Affairs Ministry provided €225 million in funding for 485 maritime R&D projects. In the same period, the entire volume of funding for research amounted to €317 million.
Promoting sustainability in shipping
The Economic Affairs Ministry, the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) and the German Shipbuilding and Ocean Industries Association presented their joint initiative for a maritime energy transition at the 10th National Maritime Conference. The aim is to provide more targeted funding for the development of technologies at the interface of energy, transport and industry, and to strengthen the dialogue of the maritime stakeholders. In spring 2017, the Economic Affairs Ministry announced the cross-programme funding initiative “Energy transition in transport”, with total funding of €130 million. The focus is on aspects like sector coupling via electricity-based fuels, innovative maritime technologies in the field of offshore wind energy, and an efficient distributed supply of electricity and heat.
Improving German companies’ capacity to export
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is providing support for German shipyards so they can offer their customers competitive financing solutions. Fixed-rate financing at the CIRR rate and export credit guarantees from the Federal Government (Hermes guarantees) ensure that German companies can operate on a level playing field.
Dialogue with the maritime industry
In order to ensure that the maritime industry continues to move in the right direction, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is promoting close dialogue between policymakers and the business sector. The National Master Plan for Maritime Technologies (NMMT) serves as a key tool for coordination and networking.
The funding of research, development and innovation in maritime technologies also forms part of the “High-tech Strategy – Innovations for Germany”, which was adopted by the Federal Cabinet in 2014. Here, the maritime technologies are identified as key enabling technologies, i.e. as driving forces for innovation. Taking this development into account, the Federal Government intends to work with the sector to develop the NMMT, which has so far focused on maritime technology, into an instrument for the entire maritime industry. Accordingly, the NMMT shall in future map the entire spectrum of the maritime industry, including innovative shipbuilding and the offshore supplier industry.
An “analysis of the supply side and needs of the institutions, structures and networks in the maritime sector in the field of research, development and innovation” commissioned by the Economic Affairs Ministry arrived at the finding in September 2016 that potential improvements lie in particular in the field of cross innovation and information on cross-sectoral technology and market developments. Corresponding initiatives are now being pursued by the Federal Government, not least via cross-sectoral research initiatives and programmes, and the establishment of a Lightweighting Initiative Coordination Office by the Economic Affairs Ministry.
Keeping shipping routes safe
Piracy and armed robbery at sea are a massive and extremely serious threat to life, limb and significant assets in maritime transport. In order to help protect the crews, particularly of ships sailing under the German flag, against such attacks, and in order to offer legal certainty to the shipping lines and security firms, a mechanism for the licensing of private-sector security companies was launched in 2013.
Private-sector security firms can apply for this licence from the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA). For more information, please click here (in German).
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is continuing to develop its LeaderSHIP dialogue with the shipbuilding industry, which allows all the stakeholders to discuss priorities for research and working methods. The aim is to establish “LeaderSHIP Deutschland” as a powerful body for representatives of shipyards, suppliers, trade unions and policy makers which gives advice on current issues affecting the German shipbuilding industry at regular intervals.
The Maritime Conferences – which are held every two years – are a good opportunity for the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy to join with all the relevant stakeholders to devise measures that help strengthen Germany’s position as a maritime hub.