Thuringia’s innovation policies have been designed at three different levels:
The aim of the research, technology and innovation policy is to enhance innovation activities of regional firms, particularly of small and medium-sized enterprises, and to promote the transfer of research results into commercialisation. In this respect, particularly technology and knowledge-based companies are supported in their research, technology and innovation activities.
The Free State of Thuringia pursues an active economic policy towards a knowledge-based and resource-friendly economy. Under this general objective, regional economic policy focuses on encouraging dynamic and sustainable economic growth, job creation and the strengthening of Thuringia’s innovation capacity. The “Trendatlas 2020”, published in 2011, and its innovation, investment and modernisation strategy, is providing a roadmap for Thuringia’s economic development policy and strategy. On the base of Thuringia’ strengths and potential for growth, international trends and future markets, the “Trendatlas” identifies eleven dynamic and future-oriented growth fields. These are accordingly key areas of Thuringia’s industrial policy. A further focus is on R&D in the business sector, cluster and networks, skilled labour, and future-oriented technologies, as well as growth of regional (predominantly small) companies and structural change towards new technology-driven future domains.
The “Trendatlas” results were integrated in the regional process of smart specialisation, together with further studies and analyses. Based on a broad discussion process in the region, the RIS3 Strategy highlights five fields of specialisation:
- Sustainable and smart mobility and logistics;
- Healthy life and health industry;
- Industrial production and systems;
- Sustainable energy and resource use;
- ICT and innovative services close to production.
The Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society seeks to provide favourable and innovation-friendly framework conditions through promoting research, technology and innovation as well as through the support for R&D personnel.
In 2015, the Ministry published the Directive of the Free State of Thuringia for the promotion of research technology and innovation, “Richtlinie des Freistaates Thüringen zur Förderung von Forschung Technologie und Innovation”. The innovation policy presents a vision of innovation as a driver for growth and employment for further advancing regional industry and research. Of high importance for Thuringia’s regional economy are innovation activities undertaken by regional SMEs; thus, the aim of the regional research, technology and innovation policy is to further push innovation activities in SMEs and to increase the transfer of research results from regional science and research towards commercialisation. Thuringia’s regional policy for research, technology and innovation support is based on three main elements:
- Support of R&D projects (including collaborative efforts as well as R&D in individual companies);
- Innovation vouchers; and
- Industry-oriented infrastructure.
Supporting measures are co-funded through ERDF, ESF and regional means. Research and innovation policy is based on the regional RIS3 strategy and it focusses on four specialisation fields, complemented by ICT and innovative services as horizontal cross-cutting fields (see above).
In 2007, the Thuringian Government launched an inter-departmental research strategy, which is since then continually updated and complements the regional RIS3 strategy since 2015. The strategy targets strengthening regional universities, non-university research organisations and R&D in private businesses in order to promote scientific excellence. This follows the rationale that a competitive research landscape generates impulses for knowledge and technology transfer and innovations.
Regional research policy aims at ensuring competitiveness, strengthening networks, junior staff development and infrastructure investments. Key research fields are characterised by scientific excellence and close interlinkages with innovative industries. Research funding has two main components: one is focussed on the further development of existing core research fields including maintaining/ increasing their international competitiveness and establishing cross-institutional cooperation structures. The other one is based on supporting innovation projects in the fields of cultural and social change, media and communication, health research and medical technology, microbiology and biotechnology, optical technologies and photonics, micro- and nanotechnologies and microelectronics, information and communication technologies, materials and production technologies, and environmental and energy technology as well as infrastructure.