An analysis of patent applications filed with the European Patent Office reveals that German companies primarily expand their research activities abroad in high-tech sectors in which they already conduct long-term intensive research. These sectors are: electrical engineering, control technology, engines, pumps, turbines, thermal processes, mechanical components, and transport. German R&D internationalization is thus founded on fields of research that are highly productive domestically. By contrast, there is cause for concern for Germany as a location for research in the fields of telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. In these areas German companies have been intensifying their research activities abroad due to relative weakness at home. A particularly controversial topic in the political arena concerns the global competitiveness of Germany as a location for research. Empirical investigation of German research and its main competitors yields surprising results: Germany's competitors are almost exclusively Western European countries, particularly Austria, Switzerland, and France - all German neighbors. While the US continues to play a central role as a location for research funded by German companies, its importance has declined drastically since 1990.
Innovation system Composite indicator Industrialized countries