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Thus, for the first time in years, the proportion of companies that introduced innovations increased again in the reporting period of 2016. The innovator rate rose from 35.2 to 36.1%. The reason for this was first and foremost “increased innovation in industry,” said Prof. Dr. Bettina Peters , Deputy Head of the Research Department Innovation Economics and Corporate Dynamics, who coordinates the innovation survey of the Mannheim Center for European Economic Research (ZEW).

The automotive industry remains at the top of the spending-friendly industries (52.4 billion euros). Growth was also recorded in the metal industry, mechanical engineering, and plastics processing. For 2018, companies are planning a major leap by 5.9% to 170.0 billion euros. Large companies in particular want to expand further. The innovation intensity, i.e. the ratio of innovation expenditure as compared to the revenue of the German economy, is highest in the electrical industry at 10.7%, followed by the automotive industry (9.8%), chemical and pharmaceutical industry (7.8%), technical services (7.5%), and mechanical engineering (6.2%).

Nevertheless, these numbers are not without a downer. The innovation activity is quite concentrated. Fewer companies in Germany have carried out research and development, their share fell from 20.0% to 17.4%. At the same time, a cross-country comparison shows that the “innovation gap” in Europe has increased significantly in recent years. The range of widely differing political reactions in times of crisis is cited as one reason for this. While countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden are increasing their public R&D expenditure in such situations, France, Austria, Spain, Portugal, and Italy are more likely to put on the brakes.