Economic Affairs Minister Brigitte Zypries speaking at the Digital Summit

© BMWi/Maurice Weiss

Economic Affairs Minister Brigitte Zypries welcomed some 1,100 high-level representatives of government, commerce, trade unions, academia and society to the Federal Government’s 2017 Digital Summit (previously the National IT Summit). In addition to Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, the participants also included Research Minister Prof Dr Johanna Wanka, Health Minister Hermann Gröhe and Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, as well as the Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, and the Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann.

The motto of the conference was “Live better connected lives”, and the discussions between the high-level members of the summit network focused on opportunities and challenges for smart networking, the digital transformation of the economy and education, and progress on the road to a digital administration. The foundations for this were provided by the outcomes of the summit platforms and forums. Another key issue at this year’s summit was the digitisation of the health sector.

Said Minister Zypries: “Once again, the Digital Summit is providing an important boost to the future progress of digitisation in Germany. The pace of technological and economic developments is high. This makes it all the more important for government, commerce, academia, trade unions and society to work closely together to intelligently combine industrial expertise and the opportunities of digitisation and to incentivise innovation and investment. The host region for this year’s summit, the Rhine-Neckar metropolis region, shows how this can work. It is a living example of how “smart networking” across levels of administration and sectors of the economy can permit a better service for individuals and commerce. We need more examples like this of an integrated digital policy involving close cooperation between all the stakeholders.”

At the Digital Summit, the Economic Affairs Ministry presented numerous initiatives which are successfully promoting digitisation: Since the launch of the Digital Hub Initiative at the last IT Summit, selected hubs in 12 towns and cities have started work. They are focused on priorities from chemicals to healthcare and artificial intelligence, and are giving a further boost to Germany as a centre for entrepreneurship. Start-ups will have two billion euros of new public funding available over the next few years. And 13 new 4.0 centres of excellence for SMEs will be launched this year. Together with the 11 existing centres of excellence, they ensure that companies can get hold of practical information about digitisation across the country. Finally, the Plattform Industrie 4.0 presented a 10-point plan for Industrie 4.0 at the summit, offering specific recommendations for how business can be given further support on the road to Industrie 4.0.

Detailed information about the entire programme of this year’s Digital Summit, all the current project and initiatives of the Economic Affairs Ministry for the summit, and the summit brochure can be found at

Further to this, the “Ludwigshafen Declaration” presents the main results and progress from the preceding summit year. The declaration can be found (in German) here.

In the run-up to the summit, the Economic Affairs Ministry, the Labour Ministry and the Justice Ministry presented joint guidelines for an integrated digital policy for businesses, workers and consumers. The position paper can be downloaded (in German) here.