Staying Competitive in Tomorrow’s Global Economy - New industrial challenges and strategies in the Nordic Countries and Germany

A conference by SWP, the Nordic embassies Berlin and the Nordic Council of Ministers

Date: Monday, 11 May 2015, 9:30 – 16:30 

Venue: Felleshus of the Nordic Embassies, Rauchstr. 1, 10787 Berlin

In the aftermath of the European economic and debt crisis, the question of how to regain and promote competitiveness is very high on the agenda of European countries. National competitiveness strategies often centre on fostering innovation understood as the translation of new ideas into goods or services that generate added value. According to leading international rankings, the Nordic countries and Germany are frontrunners at embracing innovation policies for boosting their competitiveness in terms of economic growth and social welfare. Growth will hence be one focus area of the Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2015, emphasising that now the time is ripe to concentrate on growth and jobs. A key point in the discussion about staying competitive, both in Germany and the Nordic countries, is the maintenance of jobs in the industrial production sector. Modernizing home-production and maintaining an efficient production base are crucial to exports, innovation and future growth. In order to keep the welfare state systems, stay competitive and maintain growth, the industrial sector and societies need to adapt. In the future, industrial production is expected to become more flexible, closer integrated with customers, and able to link production with high-value services. 

The German government reacted to this challenge by launching a high-tech strategy in September 2014 to ease and accelerate the practical application of scientific research. The strategy focuses on, inter alia, digital solutions, sustainable energies and smart mobility in order to strengthen national growth and prosperity. Industry 4.0, referring to the fourth industrial revolution, is a project within that strategy. It promotes the computerization of the manufacturing industry as well as a strong customization of products under the conditions of a highly flexible (mass-) production. 

On the Nordic side, similar debates and processes are taking place. As an example, the Danish government has launched a process that should lead to recommendations on how to maintain the industrial production base. The need for a modern industrial policy is also on the EU agenda. The EU member states’ ministers for industry recently discussed whether there should be a 20% target for the industrial share of GDP, however several EU member states are sceptical towards this target. 

The conference will examine Nordic and German approaches to competitiveness. This particularly relates to existing and future industrial challenges and the upcoming fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0). What are the main focus areas, what is expected to come out of initiatives on the national, regional and European levels, what are the common challenges and what can both sides learn from each other? What is the scope for cross-border cooperation between industrial companies in Germany and the Nordic countries (i.e. product export, subcontracting partnerships and exchange of knowledge and technology)? What is the global perspective for Germany and the Nordic countries in the transition to industry 4.0? In which ways can the Nordic countries and Germany jointly promote competitiveness and innovation related to new industrial strategies in international arenas, most importantly the European Union? 

Policymakers and experts from both the Nordic countries and Germany are invited to exchange their respective views, experiences and ideas for fostering competitiveness and new industrial approaches. The conference shall thus offer lessons which may be learned beyond the national borders and context.

From Iceland, Mr. Elvar Knútur Valsson, Senior Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Industries and Economics, will participate and share the Icelandic experiences on how to manage to create and maintain jobs, in workshop I.

The seats are limited and we kindly ask for registration. Please send an e-mail with your full contact details and function to Dorothee Ayoub at SWP by 8th May 2015. Kindly also state in which of the three workshops you wish to participate and whether you plan to attend the lunch and the networking reception after the conference.

Invitation Letter


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