UK Takes Tech Lessons From Germany

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Mandelson pays a visit to Germany to get tips on the country’s science and technology innovation network

Business secretary Lord Mandelson has visited Berlin to pick up lessons on how the UK could improve its approach to nurturing innovation in science and technology.

The British government believes it can learn from the tight integration between academia and industry which exist through structures such as the German Fraunhofer model. The German visit is tied to the wider “Going For Growth” technology development strategy announced at the beginning of January. The process which aims to boost innovation and ties between business and industry includes an investigation by entrepreneur and founder of Acorn Computers Hermann Hauser.

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“I have always said that Britain is a land of inventors and innovators. I am proud of how well we create and design items, but I want to ensure we translate all our achievements into money-makers and ultimately jobs,” said Lord Mandelson during his visit late last week. “Germany has long been admired as a world leader in this field and so I am here to learn about their success. I look forward to reporting back on how we can use their experience to help advance economic growth in the UK.”

The visit included a meeting between Mandelson and his German government counterparts, federal minister of Economics and Technology Rainer Brüderle and state secretary from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Dr. Georg Schütte.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft was established in Germany after the end of the Second World War to create tighter links between research and industry. The organisation owes its name to Munich researcher, inventor and entrepreneur Joseph von Fraunhofer who died in 1826 of heavy metal poisoning related to his experiments with glass making. Innovations that have resulted from Fraunhofer over recent years include contributing to the development of the MP3 music format.

Lord Mandelson announced in January that Hauser – the founder of tech companies such as Acorn Computers and partner in venture capital firm Amadeus Capital Partners – had been drafted in to advise the government on how to overhaul innovation in the UK. Acorn Computers was established in Cambridge in 1978 and developed computers including the popular BBC Micro, Acorn Electron and the Acorn Archimedes. The company was relaunched in 2006 as a seller of notebook computers.


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