European innovation policy

Good innovation policy helps turn research into good products. Image: Grappler in industry production. ©Fotolia/Mickey Hoo

Research and innovation are the foundation of a reliable growth strategy in the European economy and the German economy.

The European economy needs innovative products if it is to stand up to international competitors. This is why research and innovation are core components in the European Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy, and rightly so. The greater the investment in research and development, the greater the chance of high economic growth. The Innovation Union flagship initiative and the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020 aim to accelerate the transformation of research findings into innovative products and services. Innovations create new, secure jobs – but only if Europe is able to manufacture a good share of these innovative products itself, and thus increase its portion of value added. The United States and many countries in Asia (such as South Korea and Japan) have great innovation potential, and this puts Europe’s research economy under more global competitive pressure. This is why the success of Horizon 2020 and other European programmes for fostering innovation crucially depend on the participation of the European economy and especially the German economy. This is also another significant reason why the BDI is actively engaged with the following thematic areas in European innovation policy. 

  • Innovation Union

    The European Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy has three priorities: intelligent, integrative, sustainable (economic) growth. It is pursuing these aims through seven flagship initiatives. A central element of this strategy is (research-driven) innovation, which has resulted in the Innovation Union initiative, the further development of the European Research Area (ERA) and the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. The Innovation Union is a package of concrete measures by the European Commission aimed at improving the conditions for research and innovation funding in the private sector in Europe.

  • Horizon 2020

    The eighth phase of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – Horizon 2020 – runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a total budget of €70 billion. Horizon 2020 is designed to build up a knowledge-based, innovation-friendly society and a competitive economy in the EU. Horizon 2020 is seen as a central measure for implementing the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy and the Innovation Union. Product, service and process innovations are central elements of a competitive economy in Germany and Europe. With this in mind, Horizon 2020 was specially geared towards fostering innovation by integrating the European Innovation and Technology Institute (EIT) and elements of the former Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) in the regular research programme (FP7). Using various measures, it aims to promote innovation along the entire innovation chain – from basic research to commercial exploitation and launching newly developed products on the market.


The BDI is actively involved in the emergence and negotiation process for Horizon 2020. This work is coordinated by the European Research and Innovation Policy working group of the BDI’s committee for research, innovation and technology policy. Founded in 2011, the group aims to ensure that rules for participation in Horizon 2020 are innovation-friendly and business-friendly so that participating in EU research framework programmes becomes more attractive for the research economy again. Its specific fields of work are: