Cover of the publication "Action programme on digitisation"

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12 points on the digital future

The digital transformation of our economy and society is well underway. We want to shape it and drive it forward. This is why we have developed the Action Programme on Digitalisation, which is to turn the Digital Strategy 2025 into reality.

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Action programme on digitalisation

The digital transformation of our economy and society is well underway. We want to shape this rapid transition and drive it forward. In our Digital Strategy 2025, we systematically present the most important areas of action. We want to ensure better conditions for the economy in order to improve innovation and investments in digitalisation and to user in a new age of entrepreneurship. Thanks to the Action Programme on Digitalisation, we are able to turn our Digital Strategy 2025 into reality - through a range of measures that we have already taken, some that we are in the process of taking, and those that we see and important next steps.

  • There are currently a number of digital hubs being created in Germany in which startups, scientific institutions, SMEs, industry and government co-operate with one another and become centres of the digital transformation. We are working on establishing a common label and a hub agency for the large German hubs that act as flagships in order to ensure the best possible networking of hubs throughout Germany and thus improve the transfer of know-how between each of them.
  • We will strategically promote these digital hubs abroad with the help of Germany Trade and Invest to make them better known internationally and to put them in contact with founders and investors from abroad.
  • We are establishing SME 4.0 centres of excellence across Germany which enable SMEs to experience digital technologies first hand. This year, eleven centres are being launched. Further centres will be added in 2017. These new centres will focus on specific subjects or sectors as part of a broadening of the ‘SME 4.0’ initiative for innovative solutions in the digitalisation and networking of the economy.
  • Within the Industrie 4.0 platform, which since became internationally recognised, we are particularly helping the SMEs in the industrial sector to embrace digitalisation by giving practical examples and relevant recommendations for action. The platform also promotes various activities such as those linked to the standardisation of Industrie 4.0, for example through the so-called Reference Architecture Model for Industrie 4.0.
  • The ‘go digital’ support programme supplements the centres of excellence by offering external consulting services to companies with up to 100 employees. These services range from the initial consultation and analysis to actual implementation in the areas of IT security, internet marketing and digitised business processes.
  • We want to provide targeted incentives for SMEs to invest in the digital transformation by launching an ‘SME Digitalisation Campaign’. We want to accelerate the digitalisation of SMEs by providing investment incentives and the associated funding of consulting services.
  • The rapidly increasing demands that come with the development of Industrie 4.0 and smart grids require us to establish high performance broadband networks.
  • In rural regions and outskirts, where the private sector will not be upgrading the networks for the foreseeable future, the government needs to complement and supplement investments. We therefore need a future-oriented investment fund with a volume of around €10 billion. Financing sources for this fund could include the proceeds from the next spectrum auction (the UMTS frequencies will expire in 2020) and funds from the Digital Dividend II.
  • We are currently calling for the depreciation schedules for hardware and software and all digital equipment to be shortened to a maximum of three years in the private sector and made more uniform. This should increase private investments in digital technology.
  • We are also working on increasing the depreciation threshold for low-value assets and raising the turnover threshold for VAT payments; this would help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially when dealing with digital mass goods.
  • We are establishing a monitoring process for digital sovereignty in order to more precisely define relevant key technologies and skills and to establish an agenda to secure digital value creation networks.
  • We will provide €1 billion for investments in microelectronics to strengthen Germany and Europe as industrial centres together with other EU Member States. We will launch the measure as an ‘Important Project of Common European Interest’ (IPCEI) in 2017, thereby leveraging investments of over €3.5 billion in Germany throughout the following years.
  • We have established the Trusted Cloud Platform and its associated label as an independent and transparent marketplace for trustworthy cloud services to make it easier for companies to switch to using safe digital cloud technologies. This can serve as a model for the common digital internal market. The cross-sector Smart Home Platform is a joint measure by all participants to help establish and expand this important future market.
  • The ‘Smart Services World II - new fields of application for digital services and platforms’ programme aims to function as a implementation platform for the current ‘Smart Services World’ technology programme. The goal is to cover all core areas of the economy that are affected by platform economies but which have not been (fully) recognised, and to develop future-oriented solutions. The programme also plans to draw up services for rural regions that have high prospects for using such services. It particularly aims at creating solutions that serve as beacon projects for SMEs.
  • We have already created an efficient tool to mobilise private venture capital through INVEST. We will massively expand INVEST before the end of autumn this year. The limit of the 20% grant for investments in venture capital will be doubled to €500,000 and the capital gains are to be reimbursed on a flat-rate basis.
  • We are also mobilising venture capital for founders and young entrepreneurs through additional programmes. Three measures this year – the launch of the new coparion fund (with a volume of €225 million), starting the ERP/EIF growth facility (with a volume of €500 million) and the top-up for the ERP/EIF Fund of Funds from €1.7 to €2.7 billion – have all made venture capital more accessible.
  • By calling for investors in the High-Tech Start-Up Fund III (targeted volume of €300 million), which will launch in 2017, we not only provide an additional source of financing for founders, but also give established companies interested in investing in funds a wide overview of the innovation process and the start-up scene in Germany and offer them the chance to work together with the fund’s portfolio companies.
  • In order to continue improving the framework conditions for venture capital financing and to increase growth of companies, we have launched an Act to retain tax-loss carry-forwards when there are changes in shareholders.
  • We will submit a draft for a Trust Services Act as quickly as possible in order to make it easier for private individuals, companies and authorities to communicate with one another in a safe and trustworthy way. We will also oversee the development of identity services and support the creation of safe ‘digital identities’ for citizens and companies. 
  • We are making every effort to speed up the modernisation of our administrative services to establish more efficient eGovernment. These measures include a rapid adoption of the Act on Open Data and the provision of more data from the administrations for use by start-ups and established companies.
  • We are ensuring that the newest reform on the procurement law for EU-wide auctions, which introduced the obligatory e-procurement law, is applied as soon as possible. We are helping digital procurement procedures underneath EU thresholds make their way into all German procurement bodies.
  • By adopting the Act on the Digitalisation of the Energy Transition and introducing the associated digital metering systems, we have taken the necessary steps to make use of digitalisation to successfully implement the energy transition and to become pioneers in the areas of smart grid, smart meter and smart home. Smart metering systems functioning as standardised communication platforms and the ‘privacy and IT security by design’ approach can become ‘made in Germany’ brands and are suited to serve as a model for further areas of digitalisation, from the smart home to Industrie 4.0.
  • We are funding a model project ( for open data from the energy sector and plan to expand open data in the energy sector.
  • We want to speed up the digitalisation in the healthcare industry. For this, we are supporting model projects through our Smart Networks Initiative. We are also promoting the testing of new digital technologies and eHealth applications in what are known as real-life laboratories. By funding start-ups, we are supporting innovative concepts for digital healthcare.
  • The E-Health Act has set out binding deadlines for the introduction of the electronic health file. This health file is key for the use of digitalisation in the healthcare sector. We are working on a fast implementation.
  • The E-Health Act also foresees fixed deadlines for setting out billing codes for remote healthcare services. Their absence presents a large gap to digitalisation in the healthcare sector and we are supporting a quick implementation in the standard care models.
  • We welcome the fact that the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), as a central point of contact for investors on the financial market, has improved the information and advisory services and reorganised its services in the area of FinTech in order to help companies enter the regulated financial market.
  • We support the proposal to assess the possibility of accelerating authorisation procedures in appropriate cases in order to speed up the authorisation of innovations from FinTechs in a way that is already being done for established companies without diminishing the financial market’s level of security and stability.
  • We are also in favour of reviewing the uniformity of the framework conditions at European level in order to quickly move forward the digital internal market in the FinTech sector in the best way possible.
  • Germany is to remain the lead market and provider for mobility in the age of digitalisation. We are in favour of all efforts to prepare the legal framework for automated procedures and to establish additional testing fields in form of real-life laboratories.
  • The ‘New Vehicle and System Technologies’ funding programme aims at supporting key research projects for automated and connected driving.
  • We are also in favour of modernising the in some parts outdated passenger transport regulations and adapting them to current technological advances. This includes repealing the testing of local knowledge for obtaining a driver’s license for public passenger transport and removing the obligation of returning rental cars after a transport contract is fulfilled. It also encompasses more open technology-neutral regulations for technological innovations and an increase of the threshold for private passenger transportation.
  • We plan to organise learning partnerships with cities and municipalities as well as collaborative companies for a proper dialogue with accommodation platforms and other services of the sharing economy with local effects. In this way, we want to encourage discussions on conflicts of interest and to find social solutions that all participants can profit from.
  • Providers of sharing economy platforms are often unaware if and what legal regulations are applicable, especially if private individuals participate on an occasional basis. This causes legal uncertainty for all participants. We therefore plan to examine where clear thresholds or other criteria can help legally exempt marginal and occasional activity of private individuals from specific legal regulations. We also plan to enable experimental areas.
  • In order to improve legal certainty and make the regulations more transparent, we are also working on ways to allow platforms to pay taxes for commercial providers directly to revenue authorities.