Technological innovation is known as the most important source of growth and prosperity. Such innovation comes when new knowledge is successfully utilised in a productive manner. This cannot happen without the knowledge economy.
This term was introduced as early as the 1960s as a means of labelling a post-industrial society, but today it refers to the successful combination of individual and collective knowledge with industrial expertise. If these three elements combine successfully, the result is a flourishing modern economy and a prosperous society.
There is no question that in recent decades we have seen a significant structural shift. However, this was not accompanied by a rejection of the industrialised society, as many people predicted. Knowledge is seen rather as the decisive catalyst for future-oriented technological development. Sociologists may have endeavoured to prove in their research the value of theoretical knowledge, but the modern approach is more a combination of practical experience together with knowledge-guided and vision-guided innovation.
If the existing wealth of experience is utilised well, the actual knowledge economy is much more than the sum of its individual parts. This brings together economy, ecology and social market economy, theory and practice, industry and research. We pool what we know and what we can do – without awareness of the past, there can be no progress, without tradition, there can be no modernity. It’s as simple as that.
If we are now successful in developing structures in Germany that allow for a sustainable and fruitful partnership between education and industry, we will – almost automatically – succeed in increasing our prosperity despite our declining population. After all, in these times of globalisation, a leading role in international competition is at stake. Who sets the standards for other countries to follow? Tax frameworks, the protection of material and intellectual property and state funding of public-private partnerships are important keys to success.
If a new, truly modern understanding of such a knowledge economy takes hold, industry and society will achieve the greatest possible synergy and prosperity. This is where the BDI contributes as mediator a between the business sector and political sector. We are concerned about achieving sustainable international competitiveness (Germany already accounts for almost ten percent of global trade with around one percent of the world’s population), improving Germany’s attractiveness as a business location due to its favourable economic policy environment, and ensuring continual high growth based on clear regulatory foundations.
The social market economy is the BDI’s regulatory model – with open markets, functioning competition, equal opportunity and achievement equity. That is what we advocate and that is why the BDI always contributes to the political discourse. It pools various opinions, balances the interests of the member federations in its alliance, and offers politicians coordinated, representative positions. That is indispensable for democratic decision-making and it allows us to provide support to the companies that are part of our comprehensive network in Germany and abroad as they compete in the global marketplace.
If we all use this internationally recognised centre of excellence together, not only will we be able to manage what we already know, we will also be able to nurture innovation, progress and the future to provide economic prosperity for society as a whole.