Innovation as a joint effort 

CIIPA-Germany Director Xiao Yun on the opportunities of Chinese-German cooperation in the smart manufacturing industry 


Digitalisation and intelligence in traditional manufacturing have become the hotspot and focus of Sino-German industrial cooperation. Here, further points of intersection and common interests are emerging.


In recent years, the Chinese government has attached great importance to the development of the smart manufacturing industry and has focused on the integrated development of the digital economy and the real economy. Innovative applications and the integrated development of smart manufacturing industry will be crucial factors of realising the new development pattern of two circuits during the period of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. As the largest manufacturing base in the world, China has a huge market volume, a complete range of industries and obvious advantages in human resources. With the rapid development of e-commerce and the network economy, the field of smart manufacturing has also made significant progress. Unique leaps in innovation are emerging here. 


Germany is also considered a strong manufacturing location. Its scientific and technological strength, solid basic research, fruitful innovation achievements and the world-renowned spirit of perfect craftsmanship all contribute to this. Germany has driven “Industry 4.0”, opening the way to the “Internet of Everything”. In the manufacturing sector, China and Germany have their specific advantages and are highly complementary in terms of resource endowments, making them “golden partners” for innovation cooperation.


In the future, with an expanded open cooperation space, there are new opportunities in the smart manufacturing industry in China and Germany. Two factors deserve special attention. 


On the one hand, the government, industry and regional clusters have joined forces in a joint effort to deepen cooperation between Chinese and German industry. The 14th Five-Year Plan of the Chinese government and China’s long-term goals until 2035 clearly envisage the acceleration of digital development as well as the digital transformation of SMEs. Jiangsu, Guangdong, Sichuan, Shandong and other important economic regions have already established sites for Sino-German SME cooperation, attracting a large number of enterprises with German funding. 


Smart innovations, in which enterprises play the main role, broaden the scope for new technologies and business models


On the other hand, smart innovations continue to emerge in which enterprises play the main role. This broadens the scope for new technologies and business models in the digital transformation, Chinese manufacturing enterprises are constantly moving from exploration and practice to innovative applications. More and more manufacturing companies have achieved technological breakthroughs and accelerated the modernisation of production through cross-border investment and cooperation, combined with German concepts for Industry 4.0. As a result, the global smart manufacturing industry is gaining new momentum. 


Industry-centred and demand-oriented initiatives stimulate practical cooperation


In September 2019, we launched the German-Chinese Working Group on Investment Promotion in the Smart Manufacturing Industry together with the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade (BWA), the Association of German Hidden Champions (VDHC), the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz and the Deutsche Messe Technology Academy.  In April 2022, the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (Frauenhofer IFF) became a new member of the working group. The working group sees itself as a specialised service platform in the field of investment and cooperation between the Chinese and German smart manufacturing industries. “Industry-centred and demand-oriented”, it stimulates practical cooperation, for example at the German-Chinese Intelligent Production Forum at the Hannover Messe. This brings together investors, capital and resources of the industrial organisations. and gives new impetus in local locations – for smart manufacturing cooperation as well as optimisation of supply chains. 

The annual report of CIIPA 2022 demonstrates the potential of industrial cooperation between companies from China and Germany through numerous company reports and interviews.

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