R & D accelerates technical progress, drives economic growth and creates jobs. Large conglomerates are the keenest innovators; small and medium-sized enterprises still have some catching up to do.
Patents offer an incentive for R & D. They protect companies which conduct research from competitors intent upon copying their innovations. Overall there is no shortage of ideas in Germany but too rarely are they developed into marketable products. One cause of this is the complicated system of research subsidies, which are restricted to selected technologies.
The state must abandon its conviction that it is a better judge than business of what will be in demand tomorrow. A general tax break for R&D activity would be a better solution. A further obstacle to innovation in Germany is the shortage of young people with the appropriate technical background. In recent years there have been too few graduates in technical subjects. Women, especially, are showing too little enthusiasm for subjects like mechanical and electrical engineering and chemistry.