A study by IW Consult and Santiago for the VCI (Short Version)

Paving the Way for Innovation

Existing conditions in the German chemical industry are excellent for offering contributions to solutions for the major global challenges. Even faster and more innovative developments in chemistry will drive forward competitiveness and enhance growth and prosperity in Germany. Therefore, strengthening the innovation capability at this industry location needs to be a top priority for all stakeholders. The study identifies the relevant starting points and makes concrete action proposals for implementation. The available brochure presents the central results of the study as well as approaches for solutions.


20 Seiten / DIN A4

Target groups: Politics, broad public, member companies

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Global challenges such as the world’s growing population, safeguarding the food supply, healthcare, environmental protection, mobility, urbanization, and the energy supply will define our future. These tremendous challenges cannot be met without innovation. Germany’s chemical and pharmaceutical industry is playing a central role in these efforts. It is one of the most strongly research-focused industries in Germany. It currently spends over €10 billion for research and development (R&D) annually, and a fifth of its revenue comes from products that were launched on the market less than five years ago. The chemical industry is also an innovation driver. Many different sectors – especially the automotive, electric, machining, and construction sectors – use innovations from the chemical industry in order to stay competitive. That’s why the chemical industry’s capacity for innovation is so important for all of Germany as an industrial location.

Speed is crucial to success

Competitive pressure on German industry is increasing all over the world. Innovation cycles are becoming ever shorter, and up-and-coming national economies are also catching up with established ones in the area of cuttingedge technologies. Asian countries are posting the biggest increases in the percentage of total patent registrations.Today over a quarter of all scientific publications in the field of chemistry are published in China, which occupies first place in this field by a wide margin. China’s chemical industry boosted its R&D investments by about €7 billion between 2010 and 2014. For the European chemical industry, the corresponding figure was only €2 billion. In order to maintain its leading position as an innovation incubator, Germany must now create the right basic conditions for future innovative strength. For the German chemical and pharmaceutical industry, the issue is increasingly the speed at which ideas become innovations and patents become products. But what speeds up innovation, and what slows it down?

The innovation study gives clear answers

To find the answers, the German Chemical Industry Association commissioned the Cologne Institute for Economic Research Köln Consult GmbH and the Santiago management consulting company to study innovations in the German chemical and pharmaceutical industry as they move from the laboratory to the market. What internal and external obstacles are slowing things down? And how can they be overcome? The results of the study are based on interviews with experts, surveys of companies, and research in the relevant literature. The study found that even in companies that encourage innovation there are internal obstacles that prevent innovative potential from being fully exploited. In addition, the environment in Germany poses external obstacles to innovation, in spite of all the local advantages. The main obstacles are Germany’s highly complex regulation and control systems and its authorization processes.


The obstacles to innovation in Germany’s chemical and pharmaceutical industry were determined qualitatively and quantitatively on the basis of a mix of methods: analysis of pertinent publications, interviews of experts, and a comprehensive survey of the member companies of the VCI.

Nearly 200 companies took part in an online survey. These companies are representative of all of the sector’s product segments. There was a balanced representation of companies of different sizes. The study was also based on around interviews with experts within and outside the chemical industry: Interviews were also conducted with representatives of the customers’ sectors and startup companies as well as with scientists who work together with the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

The empirical results were used to derive specific recommendations for overcoming the identified obstacles to innovation. The recommendations are based on the talks with the experts and on the experience and practical expertise of IW Consult and Santiago.

Content of the brochure

    • VCI President Marijn Dekkers: “We Need a Cultural Transformation”
    • Innovative Power Is Vital
    • Potential within Companies
    • Regulation and Bureaucracy
    • Germany Compared to Other Countries
    • Clinical Studies and Innovative Medicines
    • Public Acceptance
    • Partnerships
    • Sources of Funding and Support
    • Skilled Employees

    • The Study’s Methodology

Please note

Supplementing the short version, the full version of the study (size: 89 pages, 24 illustrations) is available in the download section at the top right hand of this page ("Ergänzende Downloads"). Additionally, please find a set of slides comprising 20 charts which summarize the results of the study and which can be used to present them.

More information

For questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us.


Dr. Annette Vielfort

E-Mail: vielfort@vci.de

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Klockner

E-Mail: klockner@vci.de