Ambassador Murphy thanked the “U.S. team” for attending, and emphasized “how meaningful it is to our mission to have you here—not just in Berlin but throughout the country.” He recalled the planning dinner in Berlin with some of the participants several weeks earlier. “I learned a lot that night,” he said, “and it became clear that Germany and the United States and their leaders in the field of innovation have a long history of working together.” He noted also that the two countries had some different approaches to the subject. “Those different perspectives, however, I believe are opportunities to learn from one another and to strengthen our relationship.” He called the symposium “a perfect example of how we turn these opportunities into tangible results.”
He noted that humanity had depended on technology-based innovation for its economic progress for centuries, and that this dependence at the start of the 21st century was more pronounced than ever. The world is now more complex, interconnected, and resource-constrained, he said, and in the face of global challenges such as climate change, increasing energy demands, dwindling water resources, food insecurity, and persistent diseases “we will need to harness technology in new ways to ensure economic growth and social development. Now perhaps more than at any time in history we need the tools of science and technology to build that sustainable future that people around the world want and indeed demand. 20th century technology is no longer sufficient to deliver 21st-century solutions.”
The goal of the symposium, he said, was to identify concrete areas where Germany and the United States can share best practices on such matters as funding initiatives, intellectual property rights, peer review, scientific exchange, public-private partnerships, and the role of NGOs. Over the past six-and-a-half decades, he said, the transatlantic relationship in science, technology, and innovation had been a success. Large, medium, and small companies from both countries had made considerable investments on both sides of the Atlantic—”investments that develop and implement new technologies and create jobs.”
EXAMPLES OF U.S.-GERMAN COLLABORATION
Mr. Murphy offered two recent examples. The first was “the world’s largest onshore wind energy park,” located on former cotton farmland in Texas. The Rock Hill Wind Farm is owned and operated by the German energy company E.ON, which has installed 600 wind turbines capable of generating over 780 Mw of electricity. The second was the decision of the world’s second-largest photovoltaics manufacturer, First Solar, a U.S. company, to site its main manufacturing plant in Frankfurt on der Oder.5 “Both E.ON and First Solar are shining examples of how innovation can bring new jobs and investments to areas that need them,” he said.
Both countries, he continued, have a long history of robust, bilateral scientific and technological investment. The United States and Germany have similar targets of investing more than 3 percent of GDP in public and private research and development. These investments in basic and applied research create incentives for private innovation. In both countries, the universities, federal labs, and industrial laboratories conduct research that leads to breakthrough products and new companies. German and American counterparts work closely together to foster research and innovation. The Fraunhofer Institutes, for example, have seven research centers in the United States, and the Max Planck Society now has a Center for Bio-Imaging in Tampa, Florida. There are more than 50 bilateral cooperation agreements between individual institutions on topics ranging from earth sciences to energy physics to public health.
As strong and productive as this relationship has been, he said, it is desirable to reinforce and expand both long-standing and more recent connections. The relationship was given a more formal structure through a science and technology agreement signed by the two countries on February 10, 2010, describing an administrative framework for cooperation. The objective is to continue to identify and intensify relations in education and research, to coordinate joint research teams, and to interlink shared national priorities in science policy to the benefit of both sides.
Mr. Murphy pointed to renewable energy as one area where the countries already work together. The United States formally joined the International Renewable Energy Agency, or RENA, on March 4, 2011. In Germany the Bonn Innovation Center for Renewable Energy also opened in 2011, where the United States looks forward to partnering in the development of clean technologies. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado has been collaborating on solar research with three institutes of the Helmholtz Association since 2008. The partners are seeking to broaden the
5Frankfurt on der Oder, or Frankfurt (Oder), is smaller than Frankfurt am Main and located in the former East Germany on the Oder River, which forms the German-Polish border.
range of their research through a new MOU focusing on solar photovoltaic materials and systems, including solar fuels and concentrated solar power (CSP), as well as performance and reliability.
“I am often asked what I predict for the future of German-American relations,” he said, “and how our two countries can impact the world in development and stability. As the world’s pre-eminent manufacturing and innovation centers, Germany and the United States can not only set an example by growing their own economies; they can also advance technological know-how and innovative developments that grow the global economy and serve the greater international community.”
Mr. Murphy concluded with “an important lesson” relevant to both the public and private sectors. “It is far better to compete by innovating, leading, and collaborating,” he said, “than by standing still. This symposium is an important platform to discuss how we best take advantage of our innovative capabilities both to compete and to collaborate.”