Charting new directions. Spanning boundaries.
The Thuringian Innovation Strategy.

A new innovation strategy for Thuringia.

Today, the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena is the oldest such facility in continuous operation anywhere in the world.  Its development was the start of an exciting new field of technology. Now, almost 100 years after this breakthrough event, we in Thuringia still have the know-how and the right instincts for innovative, world-changing discoveries.

By applying the new Thuringian Innovation Strategy, we are bundling our many strengths while focusing on our single biggest competence: close, networked collaboration among our scientific institutions, our business community, and our policymakers. This is what enables us to quickly turn promising ideas into the reality of innovative products and services!

By jointly finding the solutions to today’s challenges, we are securing our economic future and paving the way for Thuringia to progress towards innovation leadership.

This project is co-financed by the European Union (EFRE) and the Free State of Thuringia (Thuringian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society).

From concept to strategy.

Smart specialization for Thuringia.

Developing an innovation strategy for Thuringia means setting clear priorities, ones that take account of the Free State’s unique strengths and potentials.

More than 500 stakeholders representing the business sector, the scientific community, and various intermediaries took part in the process of discovering the region’s most promising growth fields and using these findings as a basis to develop a shared vision for Thuringia.  The result is “RIS3 Thuringia,” a Thuringian Innovation Strategy comprising five fields of innovation. These five fields of innovation consist of four fields of specialization plus one cross-sectoral field.

An innovation strategy to reach our goal.

Implementing the Thuringian Innovation Strategy.

Five working Groups - one for each of the fields of innovation defined by the topics it addresses - play the central role in implementing the innovation strategy. These working groups meet at regular intervals in order to identify new focuses for development and to jump-start various projects. From the drawing board to real-life implementation - this is where Thuringia’s future success is being charted.

The basic guideline for implementing the content of the innovation strategy is the “entrepreneurial process of discovery.”  This defines the dynamic and flexible working procedures to be followed by all the participating entities.


The five Thuringian fields of innovation.

Thuringia’s economy features a wide range of industries. Some have a long tradition in the region, such as optics, automobile manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and medical technology. But other, newer industries have also managed to establish themselves in Thuringia, such as micro/nanotechnology, logistics, energy technology, and environmental engineering.

In order to ensure that Thuringia’s strengths can be further enhanced intelligently and strategically, the Thuringian Innovation Strategy concentrates on five fields that are characterized by significant dynamism as far as their innovative potential is concerned. The term “fields of innovation” specifically refers to the four fields of specialization and one cross-sectoral field defined in the “RIS3 Thuringia” document (Research and Innovations Strategies for Smart Specialization in Thuringia).

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Industrial production and systems  
Sustainable and smart mobility & logistics  
Healthy living and the healthcare sector  
Sustainable energy supply and resource management  
ICT, innovative and production-related services  
Industrial production and systems

The field of specialization “Industrial production and systems” is a mainstay of the Thuringian economy. With its growing markets and numerous activities playing out across a wide range of industries, this field accounts for almost half of Thuringia’s manufacturing output.

Going forward, the manufacture of customized products will play an increasingly critical role. Particularly vital in this context will be the ability to access efficient and flexible technologies and to optimally configure the associated processes and their integration into the respective systems.

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Sustainable and smart mobility & logistics

Thuringia boasts a long tradition and excellent track record in the field of automobile manufacturing. Today, the Free State serves as a central hub for the industry, being within easy logistical reach of all the automakers in Germany and throughout Europe. In addition to some major players, it is the flexible, medium-sized automotive enterprises that are currently driving growth in this economic sector. By now, their wide-ranging technological expertise and advanced products can be found in practically every vehicle produced worldwide.

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Healthy living and the healthcare sector

The healthcare sector is one of Thuringia’s strongest drivers of employment and growth and has already become an exceptionally important component of the regional economy. The social and environmental demand for products and services in this area will only grow in the future, not least in light of demographic developments.

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Sustainable energy supply and resource management

The field of innovation “Sustainable energy supply and resource management” encompasses the activities pursued in the areas of renewable energy, regional energy-supply strategies, energy storage, resource management, and recycling.  Numerous players in the economy (e.g. product manufacturers, plant engineering firms or service providers) are active in this field, who occupy special niches or offer a broad portfolio of services as market leaders or technology leaders. Thuringia’s landscape of outstanding academic and extra-mural research institutions, along with its highly effective networking and consultancy structures, offers ideal conditions for knowledge sharing that bridges the gap between research and practical application.  This in turn lays the groundwork for developing the technologies of the future.

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ICT, innovative and production-related services

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 established itself as a key growth factor. Ever since the 1990s, information and communication technologies have increasingly impacted society, both at the workplace as well as in the private sphere. According to data from the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF, Federal Ministry of Education and Research), more than 80% of the innovations made in Germany’s key economic sectors 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 may give rise to entirely new markets, new smart services being just one example.

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Stronger together.

Partners and stakeholders.

One of the main objectives of the Thuringian Innovation Strategy is to promote regular communication and exchanges of information between the business sector, the scientific community, and further Thuringian stakeholders. The densely interlinked network this creates will give rise to interface points for innovations in a wide range of sectors.

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