According to a newly released study, comparatively fewer small and medium-sized companies in Germany are focusing on innovation. Only 850,000 SMEs invested in innovative products or processes in 2015/2017, according to a study by the state-owned development bank KfW. This was 150,000 fewer than in the last reviewed period, 2014/2016.
After a brief interim high, innovation activity in small and medium-sized enterprises had thus returned to a downward trend, according to the KfW study. The amount that companies spent on innovation also fell - to 30.7 billion euros in 2017, down from 32.3 billion euros a year earlier.
Compared to the peak in 2004/2006, the share of innovative SMEs is reported to have fallen by almost half. Smaller companies in particular had increasingly discontinued their activities in a long-term comparison. Around 80 percent of the total of around 3.76 million SMEs are small companies with fewer than five employees.
According to KfW's assessment, increasing financial obstacles to innovation, the shortage of skilled workers and the ageing of the workforce due to demographics, among other things, are likely to have curbed the innovative spirit of small and medium-sized enterprises.
"This is not good news for the German economy and its international competitiveness," said KfW expert Volker Zimmermann. "After all, innovations play a major role in employment, profits, turnover and productivity.” The German economy must secure its technological lead and occupy new fields of technology, he said.
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