Foreword

© Christof Rieken © Peter Himsel

2017 was a general election year in Germany. At its annual meeting “Festveranstaltung” and at numerous other events, acatech addressed the innovation policy themes that will occupy the new parliament. Germany must be an innovative nation both now and in the future, and partnerships will play an increasingly important role in making this possible – the future is a joint project. “Government must promote technologies and find answers to the associated problems while at the same time addressing public controversies and potential risks to people and nature”, stressed former Federal Minister Heinz Riesenhuber in his official address at Berlin’s Konzerthaus. “To do this, we must engage in a dialogue with science, industry and the general public. In the space of just a few years, acatech has become an important platform for this dialogue.” These words and the decision of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to continue as acatech’s patron are a huge source of motivation for us in our work.

In 2017, we continued to promote cooperation and an open dialogue with regard to technology. In doing so, we are fulfilling our mission to provide science-based advice to policymakers and the public – independently and for the common good. But is acatech doing the right things? Are we doing the right things in the right way? And is our advice being heeded? We asked a review team of independent external experts to look at these types of questions. Their findings were presented on 21 February. The review team concluded that “If acatech didn’t already exist, someone would have to invent it”. Overall, acatech’s work was rated as outstanding. The academy’s choice of themes was deemed to be excellent and highly relevant to society, while its work was found to be of high quality. acatech is good at communicating its work, and as a result the academy is both in demand and very highly regarded.

Strengthening advice to society

Although we are very proud of this assessment, it has also motivated us to study the experts’ recommendations for the academy’s future development even more carefully. We are committed to modernising the formats in which we present our findings to policymakers and the public, doing more to follow up our own project results and recommendations, and further strengthening our efforts to provide advice to society. Since these recommendations can only be delivered through additional basic funding, the review team recommended a substantial increase in acatech’s basic funding.

acatech continued to strengthen its dialogue with the public in 2017. On the first Tuesday of every month, we invite interested parties to the acatech Forum in Munich to discuss topical technology themes with the experts. Advisory committees of actors from civil society form an integral part of our projects. Through its partnership with the recently established Science Media Center, acatech assists journalists with their research by providing them with science-based expertise. This year, we are also strengthening our dialogue with the public through joint initiatives with the churches in Germany and adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) in Bavaria.  

We warmly welcome the decision taken by the Joint Science Conference (GWK) of the Federal Government and the Länder on 10 November 2017 to support acatech’s strategic development. From 2018, the GWK will increase its joint funding for acatech from 2.5 million euros to 3.75 million euros a year. This increase was made possible thanks to an additional financial contribution of 1.25 million euros a year from the Free State of Bavaria. The additional support from the Joint Science Conference and in particular from the state of Bavaria, where acatech has its headquarters, will make an important contribution to our future work – we have big plans for the next few years.

acatech sees itself as a working academy rather than a learned society. Our work relies on the commitment of over 500 scientists who collaborate with countless other experts from academia, industry, associations, NGOs and many other organisations. In 2017, we welcomed 26 new Members into the fold. They accepted the invitation to join the academy after being elected at the General Assembly in October in recognition of their outstanding achievements.

We are thus in a strong position as we enter 2018, our tenth year as the National academy of Science and Engineering. This is in no small measure thanks to the contribution made by Reinhard F. Hüttl, who handed over the wheel in February 2017 after steering acatech onto the right course during his two terms of office as President. We are delighted that he will be staying on the bridge as the academy’s Vice-President and global representative.

Munich and Berlin, March 2018

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Spath
acatech President

Prof. Dr. Henning Kagermann
acatech President

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Thematic Fields 2017

Work and results

Structure