As part of the structural shift to a service society and the digitalization of nearly all aspects of daily life, the rapid, mobile exchange of information has become a significant growth factor. According to data from the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF, Federal Ministry of Education and Research), more than 80 percent of the innovations made in Germany’s key industries are based on advances in the field of information & communication technology (ICT). The structural shift towards services has resulted in more and more providers of creative services now making their own contributions to innovation, be they product characteristics or whole new business models. This interplay between creativity and technical advances often gives rise to entirely new markets, new smart services being just one example.
In terms of the range of industries covered, this particular cross-sectoral field encompasses wide swaths of the ICT sector as well as individual creative sectors.
Although the Thuringian information & communications technology sector is comparatively small, it does exhibit significantly higher growth than the German national average. Moreover, a triad of interlinked ICT networks active throughout the Free State has emerged: ITnet Thüringen e.V., TowerByte eG, and Mobil Cluster Mitteldeutschland.
The specialization profile of this cross-sectoral field, which features a number of outstanding competences, is described as follows in the Thuringian Innovation Strategy:
Scientific competence is provided by eight institutions of higher learning (four universities and four universities of applied sciences) plus five research institutions.
The focus areas of research include digital engineering; digital media technology; analysis, management and simulation of complex systems; mobile communications; precision systems; technical and biomedical assistance systems.
The creative economy can draw upon such resources as two specialized application centers (bauhaus FACTORY and STUDIOPARK Kindermedienzentrum).
Key economic data for this field of innovation:
• Turnover: € 3,279,678,000
• Number of operations: 5,687
• Size of the workforce (employees subject to compulsory social insurance contributions): 24,353
Source: based on TLS data (data for 2019)
Among the critical drivers for the ever-increasing digitalization in all areas are advances in miniaturization and ongoing enhancement of the Internet Protocol (IP). In conjunction with a huge expansion in the sphere and number of potential addressees, these drivers are paving the way for the so-called “Internet of Things“ (IoT), in which ever-smaller and smarter systems are able to communicate with one another in decentralized fashion, thereby stimulating the development of new “smart services” and business models. This process of digitalization entails huge potentials and allows efficiency gains to be made.
The German Federal Government as well as the European Commission have adopted strategies and digital agendas that will enable them to participate in the shaping of this structural shift, to set the necessary framework conditions, and to put them to use in a manner conducive to innovation, economic growth, and progress.
The Digital Agenda adopted by the German Federal government in 2014 is intended to contribute to opening up further economic opportunities for Germany in the areas of Industry 4.0, 3D, smart services, big data, and cloud computing. In this context, innovations and new business models are specifically expected to arise in the industrial, agricultural, energy, healthcare, transport, and education sectors. Thuringia has taken steps to make allowance for this development, e.g. by correspondingly structuring the technical agenda of the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society.
The current topic of “Industry 4.0” is a good example of how this ties in with the fields of specialization and the growth stimuli derived from the cross-sectoral field. Thus, the Thüringer Kompetenzzentrum Wirtschaft 4.0 (Economy 4.0 Thuringian Competence Center) is the first point of contact for enterprises from all industries and industry segments when it comes to questions relating to the digital economy and IT, including IT Security.
The vision defined by the Innovation Strategy together with the strategic objectives form the basis on which this particular Working Group operates.
Shaping the digital economy: The Bauhaus movement, a cooperative of “artists, technicians, and merchants,” is recognized today as the most important design school of the modern era; Thuringia is adapting this groundbreaking Bauhaus approach to the realities of today’s economy and applying it as a tool to implement the Innovation Strategy. This means combining technical solutions, practical applications, product / service innovations and new market-access strategies while making use of the potential opened up by digital and networked processes and functions. The overarching goal is to secure the competitiveness and growth prospects of the region as a hub for industry and services.
This agenda comprises the following primary strategic objectives: