By Meghan Gregonis, US Consul General Munich
The U.S. Mission to Germany celebrated its first-ever „Transatlantic Innovation Week“ this year from April 19-25, 2021. Under the hash-tag #TIW2021, the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and the five U.S. Consulates General in Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg teamed up with over 100 partners nationwide to highlight the immense resourcefulness on both sides of the Atlantic, the strong and growing partnership between our countries, and our combined leadership.
The idea behind TIW is to fortify the existing „Transatlantic Innovation Bridge“ to build economic prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic and to strengthen our mutual security. The concept of a “bridge” is incredibly symbolic for our partnership, and we see potential for even closer bonds in a range of innovation fields.
We have a rich history of collaboration, and there is indeed already a particular emphasis on the importance of innovation in our partnership. The German-American partnership is strong and active across countless sectors – from the political realm to the security field and the economy. Transatlantic collaboration is at the forefront of solving the world’s most pressing issues in fields such as climate science, defense, and the life sciences.
And it is vital that we maintain and build our joint leadership position by continuously nurturing our technical edge. Like any other bridge, our Transatlantic Innovation Bridge needs strong pillars. With the goal of maintaining Western leadership in innovation, we based our „Transatlantic Innovation Week“ on three pillars:
Germany is one of the United States’ most important commercial partners in the world. It is the United States’ fifth largest trading partner overall, as well as the third-largest source of foreign investment in the United States, sustaining close to 860,700 U.S. jobs.
For Bavaria, the United States is the second-largest trading partner. And the United States invests heavily in Bavaria. Apple’s announcement of plans to open a European Silicon Design Center in Munich, a €1 billion investment, is just one recent example. Since 1996, the number of U.S. companies in Bavaria has tripled to over 1,000. This is not by coincidence. The innovation ecosystem here in Bavaria, Germany’s own Silicon Valley – the “Isar Valley” – is really exciting. The passion that I have seen in Bavarian innovators reminds me of the American entrepreneurial spirit. We have so much in common.
Our trade relations are robust and our economies are increasingly intertwined. Yet, there is always potential for an even deeper economic partnership.
A continuous modernization of our alliances will ensure our future economic success. With TIW, we inspired more young people and young companies from both sides of the Atlantic to combine forces and find the synergies to innovate the solutions to solve tomorrow’s challenges.
Diverse, broad-based cooperation – ranging from the government to the private sector, civil society, philanthropies, cities, and last but certainly not least, universities – is essential to protecting the resources that all people have a right to share and benefit from, and which are now being encroached upon by adversaries.
During TIW, we also emphasized the need to recognize and guard against the wide-ranging threats and barriers to innovation.
As NATO Allies, we face evolving security challenges from our competitors: cyber-attacks, intellectual property theft, and disinformation warfare. And as Western nations, we share certain values like democracy, fundamental freedoms, and protecting human rights. The innovations that lead us into the future must be consistent with these same values that make our innovative economies possible. Intellectual property, the cyber sphere, and sensitive supply chains need to be protected from theft and corruption. We need to set the norms and standards that will govern emerging technologies. And it is key for us to convey a unified message that costs will be imposed on those who break the rules.
The United States deeply values Germany’s role as an advocate for rule of law policies and free market trade. I am confident that our innovators will find ways to overcome the barriers that hinder trade, to improve competitiveness, and to develop the solutions necessary to safeguard against our shared security threats.
3) Reinforcing the importance of diversity and inclusion as drivers of innovation
Social scientists and business researchers agree that a heterogeneous and inclusive workforce is a key driver of innovation. Diversity, in fact, is the mother of innovation. With a diverse team, a company’s DNA is set for innovation.
Further, building diverse teams inherently expands the job candidate pool on the one hand, and yields different perspectives and novel solutions on the other. Companies benefit, socially and on their bottom lines, from attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse workforce. Now we have to put this realization into widespread practice.
Looking back at TIW 2021, we are proud of the outcome. Our schedule of almost 60 innovation-centered events nationwide, including 14 here in Bavaria, united over 100 partners. From A(rgo AI) to Z(entrum Digitalisierung Bayern), the innovative engagements with our partners laid the groundwork for further reinforcing the “Transatlantic Innovation Bridge”.
TIW was just the start. Our work continues as the world copes with the double crisis of Covid-19 and climate change. We are in dire need of intensified cooperation — and innovation.
The historic Leaders Summit on Climate that President Biden convened last month demonstrated the United States and Germany are eager to partner in raising global climate ambitions.
The Biden Administration underscored America’s commitment to driving a clean energy revolution – noting that countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of the future. There clearly is a unique opportunity for close cooperation in clean technology sectors. And countless other sectors can benefit from our innovation partnership as well.
The “Transatlantic Innovation Bridge” will lead us – the United States and Germany – to economic prosperity, stronger mutual security, and a more advanced transatlantic partnership.
Titelbild: Patrick Boucher / unsplash.com