Innovation strategy

Thuringia has developed into a strong innovation region in recent years. The current Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2019 of the European Union distinguishes the innovation and research location Thuringia as a "strong innovator".

Innovation policy is increasingly expected to provide answers to many pressing questions: in societal and social issues, as well as for services of general interest and participation, decarbonisation and climate change, demographics and ageing.

Innovative answers to these questions can come from science and research, as well as from the entrepreneurial and social environment. This includes sources of impetus for technological innovations and innovative improvements to products and processes, as well as rethought business models, organisational forms and services.

Improve structures, strengthen processes

The key to meeting these challenges lies in linking Thuringia's high-performance science landscape and the innovative strength of the local economy, especially industry and production-related services. The conceptual basis for this is the "Regional Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation for Thuringia of the Structural Funds Funding Period 2014 to 2020", which has made a demonstrably positive contribution to increasing innovation in the Thuringian economy.

The new Structural Funds Funding Period builds on this progress by further improving structures and processes and strengthening the following development potentials:

  • Industrial research and development
  • R&D infrastructures
  • Cluster development and supraregional networking
  • Meeting the demand for skilled workers
  • Establishment of future technologies such as digital technologies, artificial intelligence and hydrogen technology

Regional innovation strategy in the funding period 2021-2027

The foundation stone has been laid: With the "Regional Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation for Thuringia of the 2014 to 2020 Funding Period", the Thuringian state government has created a cooperation and coordination platform for the various actors in Thuringia as a location for innovation. As a consequence, it is now a matter of concentrating on those fields of specialisation that have a particularly high potential for the future.

Industrial production and systems

Sustainable and intelligent mobility and logistics

Healthy living and health economy

Sustainable energy and resource use

ICT, innovative and production-related services

The Regional Innovation Strategy in the funding period 2021 to 2027 aims to drive the development of the five fields of specialisation through a multi-stakeholder approach. In addition to innovation drivers such as universities, non-university research facilities and commercial enterprises, other actors also contribute to the development of the fields of specialisation: Cluster and network organisations, business-related research facilities and innovation centres, as well as multipliers such as business and industry associations. All these actors are at the same time links between research and application, as well as between innovation actors and political institutions such as the state government.

Implementation of the innovation strategy

In terms of a sustainable cluster policy, we strengthen the cross-cluster approach. This means that in addition to the five fields of specialisation, we also place great emphasis on differentiation within the fields. From the multitude of topics and activities, we crystallise highlights that can be expanded into innovative value creation networks. The focus is on those nodes in the supply and service chains that offer high potential and are particularly strategically relevant for Thuringia in the sense that:

  • Specialisation advantages for Thuringia are recognisable,

  • there are sufficient scientific and/or economic actors who have built up competencies over the years,

  • there is a high application reference to innovative solution approaches for future challenges and

  • high-level sources of future and growth potential exist.

In order to identify these potentials, we have compiled an initial portfolio of topics with the actors. You can find out more about this in the description of the fields of specialisation.

From the need for action to the roadmap

These topics are at the intersection of industries, technologies and future issues and offer innovative solutions in response to current socio-economic and environmental challenges. In a further step, we identify and prioritise the needs for action and bottlenecks for the development of the themes.

With the involvement of Thuringia's stakeholders, we are examining where concrete approaches for innovation-based value creation networks in the sense of cluster policy can be found and developing roadmaps for them. These roadmaps are to derive fields of action for the respective network and identify concrete measures for the actors involved.

RIS Governance Structure

Thuringian Cluster Management plays an important role with regard to networking and confidence-building among the innovation actors in Thuringia. This has been confirmed by the evaluation of the RIS processes in the funding period 2014 to 2020. As a result, we are once again providing support for the TMWWDG's task fulfilment in the Structural Fund Funding Period 2021 to 2027. The ThCM is primarily responsible for the process and participation-oriented work to implement the "Regional Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation and Economic Change in Thuringia (RIS Thüringen)". As the RIS office and an important partner for strategy implementation, the ThCM will in future be given greater responsibility in the conceptualisation of field development.

Strategy Advisory Boards – Forums – Steering Committee

Thuringian Cluster Management is assisted in an advisory capacity by so-called strategy advisory boards. These are constituted for each field of specialisation and are staffed with people from the previous working groups from business and science. The strategy advisory boards are to bring an overarching and content-related strategic component from an application and development perspective to the respective fields.

In order to involve universities, non-university and business-related research facilities, innovation centres, commercial enterprises, clusters/networks and other intermediaries, the ThCM continues to use forums, in particular, as a key participation instrument with a broad impact.

In order to accompany and control the implementation of the strategy and to advise the tasks of the ThCM, the TMWWDG is developing the previous working group ("AG RIS3") into a RIS Thuringia steering committee. As a steering and steering committee, it will in future serve, in particular, to finalise the development goals and processes set by the ThCM. This steering committee consists of representatives of the departments of the TMWWDG relevant to RIS as well as the ThCM and the Thüringer Aufbaubank. It ensures a transparent connection to the responsible ministries and state institutions through active reporting and meets regularly to monitor and coordinate the multifaceted RIS implementation processes. The RIS Thuringia steering committee reports to the ERDF/ESF monitoring committee to provide feedback to representatives of the economic and social partners on the use of EU structural aid in the implementation of the RIS Thuringia.

Monitoring the implementation of the strategy

The basic structure of the monitoring for the implementation of the RIS strategy has proven itself in the funding period 2014 to 2020 and is to be continued in the period 2021 to 2027. It consists of outcome measurement on the activities around the implementation of the strategy and impact indicators to measure the achievement of objectives. In addition to these indicators, qualitative results are also included. These include both direct and indirect activities related to innovation. In addition to the direct activities of the state, for example, through corresponding funding programmes, the monitoring also includes a wide variety of initiatives and projects by Thuringian actors.

The annual monitoring reports and indicators of RIS Thuringia have also proven their worth and are to be continued. They bundle the various result and impact indicators and provide a comprehensive view of the development of the strategy and the fields of specialisation. Different areas are linked together in the process:

  • Evaluation of the use of Thuringia's R&D funding instruments according to the fields of specialisation and evaluation of output and result indicators of ERDF monitoring

  • Consideration of the participation of Thuringian stakeholder in federal/EU R&D funding programmes

  • Sector, cluster and patent monitoring

  • Qualitative consideration of activities and developments in the fields, including trend scouting, milestones and further flanking measures

As in previous years, the report is flexible and can be supplemented with further elements as needed, in order to be able to react agilely to new funding instruments and, if necessary, new objectives.