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Snapshot of the regional innovation policies in Bavaria from the RIM Plus regional visit


Overview of innovation policies

Bavaria is one of the leading European regions regarding technology and innovation. Currently, Bavaria`s R&D intensity amounts to 3.2%. With 80%, the business sector takes over the largest share of all R&D investments in Bavaria. The Bavarian government pursues the objective to increase the R&D intensity to 3.6% until 2020.         

Research-, technology- and innovation policy (RTI) or –strategies have a quite long tradition in Bavaria and are considered as essential policy fields to safeguard the competitiveness of the companies and the region as a whole. The current research-, technology and innovation strategy was agreed by the Bavarian government in 2011. The strategy was developed as a cross-departmental concept with the contribution of various ministries. The concept is not a single document rather than embedded in a series of RTI-initiatives from the past (e.g. “Offensive Future Bavaria” from 1995, “Hight-Tech-Offensive” from 2000, “Cluster-Offensive” from 2006, “Bavaria FIT” from 2008). The overall objective of Bavaria`s RTI policy is to secure Bavaria`s leading position in the competition for innovation leadership in Germany and Europe.

Bavaria`s RTI policy is based on a broad support/funding of key enabling technologies as well as their underlying scientific fields which in turn establish the pre-conditions for many applications. With this strategy specific priorities are activated which secure the required breadth and the current trends. Within this context, the following current applications or technology fields are focused upon in the coming years:

  • Life Sciences, especially biotechnology and system biology
  • Information- and communication technologies
  • Efficient production technologies, mechatronics, automatisation and robotics
  • New materials, intelligent materials, nano- and microtechnology
  • Clean Tech – resources preserving energy-, transport- and environmental technologies, renewable resources (i.e. biofuels), e-mobility  
  • Innovative, technology-based services

The policy instruments being applied cover all phases in the innovation process, from the funding of research and technology infrastructures, to diffusion and transfer activities (e.g. networks and clusters), to the support of RTI-activities in the business sector. Instruments with a focus on improving science-business interaction, improving research- and technology transfer on the university campus, support of technology and industry clusters, support of innovative start-up companies (Bavarian programme for technology oriented start-ups), and on the funding of RTI activities in companies (Bavarian technology support programme (BayTP), innovations vouchers) – in addition to the institutional funding of applied-oriented research institutes – are the most important measures. 

The main responsibility for regional innovation policy in Bavaria lies at the Ministry of Economics, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology which is in charge for the Bavarian RTI strategy, the development of respective instruments and their implementation. However, as the recent innovation strategy is a cross-departmental document, other public authorities, mainly the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts contributed to the document as well. The main external organisations in the strategy development process were the business representatives (chambers of commerce, chambers of crafts, association of the Bavarian economy as well as representatives of science. The further governmental departments (e.g. for environment and health, for labour and social affairs, for finance, for education, and for agriculture have contributed in the form of a departmental hearing.
The governance of the Bavarian RTI policy and its complexity depends on the concrete context of public funding, the organisations involved and the respective funding sources. Regarding the basic funding of research institutes or the technology infrastructure, like universities, institutes of applied science or similar infrastructures, a specific problem in the governance cannot be observed, as the Bavarian government or the ministries in charge are directly funding the research institutes without the necessity to involve other public authorities or organisations. Regarding the various RTI funding instruments, governance mechanisms might be quite complex and challenging, as different stakeholders (i.e. companies, project executing organisations (Projektträger), other public organisations, networks and cities/regions) are involved. The state-owned organisation Bayern Innovativ for instance has been established as a legal entity by the Bavarian government 15 years ago, with the aim to support technology- and knowledge transfer, to identify innovative fields and to support clusters and networks.
The most challenging and complex RTI support activities are the structural funds (ERDF), as these are typically multi-level instruments with respective coordination and governance requirements.     

RIS3 in practice

The smart specialisation strategy in Bavaria is conceptually and as regards contents closely linked to the overall RTI strategy from 2011. According to the Bavarian Ministry of Economics, the strategy from 2011 is the core framework which is coupled with various instruments and funding measures. For Bavaria, smart specialisation is not a new approach or strategy rather than a confirmation of already implemented instruments. Thus, the main guidelines and requirements have been fulfilled prior to the EU strategy. This applies to concrete funding priorities and mostly to aspects related to the process of the strategy development, like a stakeholder process, evaluation of instruments, SWOT analysis, and further strategic support from external consultants. However, not until recently the Bavarian government has started to explicitly entitle the core aspects of the smart specialization guidelines. Within this context, a special document has been elaborated which emphasizes these guidelines:

  • The document is based on a solid analysis of the regional strengths and potentials for innovation
  • The main stakeholders have been involved in the process of the strategy development
  • It contains medium- to long term objectives and visions
  • It selected a set of technology fields and applications to be funded with priority (“specialisation”)
  • The implementation of the strategy will be carried out by concrete measures
  • Monitoring- and evaluation instruments will be controlling their implementation

As a few of these principles have not been explicitly described in the overall strategic document, a special supporting paper has been published recently by the Bavarian government.               

List of interviewees:

Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Infrastruktur, Verkehr und Technologie Bayern: Ltd. MR Dr. Manfred Wolter (Referat VIII/1), MR Dr. Christian Haslbeck (Referat III/1)

The interviews were performed by the RIM Plus regional correspondent Dr. Thomas Stahlecker from Fraunhofer ISI.