Participatory Development of Research and Innovation Policy (DE0022)
Action Plan: Germany Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Support Institution(s): High-Tech Forum (advisory group of 20 academic, business and civil society experts chaired by Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and Christian Luft, State Secretary at the BMBF)
Policy AreasLocal Commitments, Public Participation
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The 2025 High-Tech Strategy (HTS) is the current research and innovation strategy of
the Federal Government. It encompasses three fields of action: social challenges, futureoriented skills and an open culture of innovation and risk-taking.
The starting point for the content of the participatory process is the new and therefore still
fairly abstract focus on the triad of technologies, skilled workers and society in the 2025 HTS.
This is because basic and advanced training, promotion of research and technology, and an
interested, involved public are all closely interrelated. These three areas need to be closely
interlinked to shape technological or social change. The process expressly addresses people
who work in various areas of our research and innovation system or who have particular ties
to it, for example, through their volunteer work. They are directly impacted by the effects of
research and innovation policy, and also have particular insight into different areas of the
What is the commitment?
The goal of the participatory process is to initiate a dialogue between the participants and
the Federal Government on the future of research and innovation.
In roughly six to eight regional dialogue events at a variety of locations within the innovation
system (at universities or other venues, depending on the regional focus), ideas for content
are to be developed jointly, as are concrete activities. The events will be supplemented
by online features to prepare the events, provide input and contribute to the collation of
findings. A further goal of the participation process is to activate local potential and create
projects and networks.
At the end of the process, the Federal Government will give the participants feedback (as
part of an event or in writing) on how the results are to be translated into government action.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
In the participatory process of the 2025 HTS, engaged and well-informed citizens work
together with the Federal Government to shape current technological and social developments and their impacts on basic and advanced training, fostering of research and
technology, and society as a whole.
A broad range of participants will thus be involved in strategic issues concerning research
and innovation policy. The participants will gain insight into research policy while also having
the opportunity to help shape it themselves. The process will therefore also have an impact
beyond the participants, serving to interest the broader public in research and innovation
policy. Additionally, it will provide valuable input to the Federal Government.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
• As a pilot project for a transparent participatory process on strategy development, the
process will contribute to both greater transparency in government action and greater
• This commitment will improve public access to information (on the dialogue topics and on
the strategy development process itself).
Through regional dialogue events and supplementary online participation formats, the
commitment helps the public to become better informed and better able to take part in the
IRM Midterm Status Summary
7. Participatory process to develop research and innovation policy further in the framework of the 2025 High-Tech Strategy
“The goal of the participatory process is to initiate a dialogue between the participants and the Federal Government on the future of research and innovation.
In roughly six to eight regional dialogue events at a variety of locations within the innovation system (at universities or other venues, depending on the regional focus), ideas for content are to be developed jointly, as are concrete activities. The events will be supplemented by online features to prepare the events, provide input and contribute to the collation of findings. A further goal of the participation process is to activate local potential and create projects and networks.
At the end of the process, the Federal Government will give the participants feedback (as part of an event or in writing) on how the results are to be translated into government action.”
7.1. Six to eight dialogue events supplemented by online participation
7.2. Discussion and categorization of the results by the High-Tech Forum panel of experts
7.3. Submission of results to Federal Government. Decision on implementation in the state secretaries working group on HTS 2025
7.4. Feedback to participants
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Germany’s action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Germany_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.
The commitment aims to expand and deepen citizen participation in the development of Germany’s High Tech Strategy 2025 (HTS 2025),  one of the main strategic frameworks for the federal government’s support to research and development. A set of geographically distributed events and online fora will gather perspectives which will then be synthesized and communicated to the government by an expert advisory committee (High Tech Forum – HTF).  Expanding opportunities for participating in developing a major strategic policy framework (with an annual budget of over 15 billion Euro) makes the commitment relevant to the OGP value of civic participation.
The expert advisory committee has already identified stronger involvement of civil society and citizens in HTS as an important objective.  Such ambitions also feature prominently in the HTS 2025 strategy document, progress report, and various related government communication. The initial development of HTS 2025 was primarily an internal governmental process.  Input included recommendations of the previous HTF and public feedback, for example, on visions for cities of the future or how citizens want to live.  Public participation in refining HTS 2025 has been organized in two ways. First, the HTF convenes workshops with civil society on focal themes, e.g., sustainability or social innovation. Then, the resulting discussion papers are published online for comment. So far, two such papers have been published and a combined total of three comments have been received.  A variety of online and offline consultations are being deployed at program and project level. 
Combining online and offline engagement, broadening outreach beyond Berlin, and providing feedback on how suggestions were considered are noteworthy endeavors. However, several factors suggest that this commitment might not reach its intended result of strengthening civic participation. The feedback flow is rather unidirectional and filtered. The HTF is tasked with synthesizing and communicating outcomes of the various engagement to the government. Selection criteria, synthesis formats, and transparency parameters are not specified, nor is the mode of government feedback on how suggestions will be incorporated. In addition, the time the government grants itself to provide feedback is rather long (within six months) which could undermine the consultation’s momentum. The commitment does not offer opportunities for public feedback on revised draft strategies or on government responses to implementation. Perhaps most importantly, there is limited representation by civil society beyond science associations on the current HTF, which represents a step back in terms of diversity compared to the previous HTF. 
In its current form, this commitment focuses on a narrow concept of participation that does not fully align with the broader innovation concept adopted by the government for HTS 2025.  There is a widely recognized need for not only technical, but multilevel innovation in addressing major societal challenges.  There is also recurring government discussion of a need for participatory agenda-setting and a broad societal consensus.  This commitment’s potential to improve and expand public participation in the development of HTS 2025 is therefore assessed as minor.