Both for IT companies and for the traditional industrial sector, as well as the significance of the Industry 4.0 transformation. She called on both sectors to close ranks, a move she had already proposed several years ago for Hanover's two major trade fairs, CeBIT and Hannover Messe.
Merkel then expressed her belief that the German-Chinese innovation partnership is also an important step in this area, which will allow the two economies to benefit from each other’s strengths: The 600 Chinese companies at CeBIT bear testimony to China's innovativeness – Germany must increasingly take on the role of "innovation consultant". However, the German Chancellor also reminded those in attendance of the clear rules of the game and conditions that must be adhered to, for example in patent and investment protection.
Mrs. Merkel added that the Grand Coalition has come up with a 10 point program to drive innovation in Germany. She mentioned in particular the expansion of broadband technology, via cellular networks in rural areas, as the most important project. As standard, every citizen is to have access to a 50 Mbit/s connection.
She went on to list the individual steps planned:
1. In summer, the German Federal Network Agency will auction off the 700 megahertz spectrum, reinvesting the proceeds as investment stimuli to expand rural networks
2. Expand public Wi-Fi, and create a legally secure framework for liability laws by passing an appropriate Telemedia Act
3. Support startups by making it easier for them to secure venture capital and by providing tax exemptions for investments in young businesses, refocusing KfW Development Bank, supporting/simplifying fundraising on the stock market, as well as adapting taxation of losses in such cases. The general aim is to improve and grow the start-up culture in Germany.
4. Foundations are required for the Cloud and Big Data, topics currently dominating the IT industry, to deliver certainty for data processing and clear anonymization rules
5. Create of a common European domestic network
6. Integrate telecommunications in the change process, creating clear rules for roaming and a restricted level of net neutrality, as some services must be prioritized and secure
7. Build trust in digital solutions in key areas such as energy, transportation and healthcare
8. Make administrative services more citizen-centric and eliminate the barriers imposed by the German Federal system
9. Promote research, innovation and core competencies like IT security as a Made-in-Germany brand
10. And finally, advance networked mobility to transform the automotive industry as a growth driver for Germany. Work has already started on this with the development of Federal Highway A9 as a digital testing ground.
Before leaving the stage, Chancellor Merkel concluded by stating that she hopes to replace these key targets with more ambitious goals at a European level next year.