Germany regularly performs well in international rankings of competitiveness and innovation capability. Without question, the country has numerous strengths that justify this positive public perception. The good overall economic trends in recent years have also contributed to this. As a leader in global exports, Germany benefits from rising tax revenues and an employment rate that has reached record levels.
Nevertheless, looking only at the key economic indicators obscures some structural weaknesses and challenges. These are becoming increasingly important as digitalization and technological change race ahead, requiring a very high pace of innovation to stay abreast of the global competition. As an industrial powerhouse, Germany has depended on its technological lead and innovations. However, a closer look shows that the degree of innovation has declined somewhat in recent years.
When it comes to key digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and in the area of the digital data economy more generally, the United States and China have set a quicker pace than Germany. Germany also lags behind in terms of disruptive innovation. German companies are good at optimizing what already exists. However, innovations that revolutionize entire business models and value chains rarely originate from Germany. These weaknesses are even more evident in most other European countries. In order to keep pace with competitors in important economic fields, Germany and Europe must strengthen their powers of innovation.