Silicon Saxony introduces white paper "SW-IT-CH. Exploiting software and IT chances in Saxony
Saxony's digital economy is a pivotal motor for the economic advancement in the Free State of Saxony. With approximately 2,300 enterprises and about 23,000 coworkers, it substantially contributes to the current high-technology trends as Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities. It generates an annual turnover of about 2.3 billion Euros. The growing software industry is the innovation trigger for any other industries and has a significant developmental potential.
Today, the industry association Silicon Saxony e.V. introduces a white paper in Dresden called "SW-IT-CH. Exploiting software and IT chances in Saxony" in order to show how this potential may be maxed out. This white paper was supported by BITKOM e.V., the IT Bündnis Chemnitz as well as the IT cluster Mitteldeutschland. In it, the sector representatives set out precise action requests for industry and politics as an IT education offensive and an infrastructure program.
Software and IT sector as innovation triggers in a cross-linked world
With regard to the Saxon innovation report 2013, more than half of the German industrial production and over 80 per cent of Saxony's export are strongly dependent on the application of state-of-the-art IT systems and software. In the Industry 4.0 concept, software paves the way for automated industrial processes up to a self-regulating optimization. In Smart cities, it provides for smart control of traffic management and parking systems. It generates virtual power plants by the coordination of ten thousands of individual decentralized energy producers. Even the traditional automotive industry undergoes a drastic change by future technologies as autonomic driving. In our cross-linked world of today and tomorrow, software represents the trigger for any other technological innovations.
Software Saxony: Successful and dynamic but hardly visible
Exhibiting an employment growth of an average of 7.7 per cent, the Saxon software and IT sector has been the undisputed leader in the Saxon industry comparison since 2010. Annually, this sector creates more than 1,500 jobs. This favorable development is about to continue: A permanent growth of about ten per cent and a doubling in the number of employees in the Saxon software and IT sector to 50,000 within the next ten years seems a realistic target. Nevertheless, Saxony as a software location is not sufficiently perceived on both, the national and international level. According to Dirk Röhrborn, Saxon BITKOM spokesman and CEO of Communardo Software GmbH: "The Saxon software sector is a success story. It however has to become more visible. To correct this misconception is a task for sector and politics at the same time. This might be achieved by smart settlement policies, targeted location marketing and an increased linking, in particular with federal initiatives."
Our lack of skilled labor force requires education offensives
The prosperity of the Saxon digital economy is based on its bright minds. The number of graduates in computer science has hardly gone up though within the last four years. Due to the ever increasing demand for qualified IT specialists in the growing software and IT industry but also in machine engineering, automotive industry, electrical industry and in the public administration, there is a lack of skilled labor force. This lack of qualified personnel can only be partly compensated by career changers since they cannot always meet the specific requirements posed on the IT sector. As Heinz Martin Esser, head of the industry association Silicon Saxony e.V. emphasizes: "In order to meet the demand for highly skilled staff, an education offensive is required immediately. Our Saxon digital economy ought to succeed in inspiring our offspring right in the class rooms for this intriguing and seminal sector and to get them interested in software studies. We may reach this by e.g. early education, improved technical equipment at schools and further trainings of teachers, instructors and specialists at educational institutions and enterprises. Both, the industry as well as the public authorities are asked to participate here."
IT top-level research: Saxony needs its own software research institutions
The Free State of Saxony has available an outstandingly staffed research community with its Fraunhofer, Leibnitz, Max-Planck and Helmholtz institutions. Among these, there is not a single establishment clearly linked to software research though. Therefore, Saxony requires its own research institution linked to software and focused on novel technological questions as cyber security and cyber-physical systems in the "Internet of Matters". Only this way, it may turn into a lighthouse for innovation and growth of the Saxon digital economy. As Prof. Dr. Wolfram Hardt, Vice-Dean at the faculty of computer science at the TU Chemnitz, explains: "This innovation tank will mean an attraction for our graduates and IT partners. It will hence turn into a crucial success factor for the IT region Saxony."
Infrastructure program as the basic requirement for establishments and settlements
A modern infrastructure is an essential factor for the economic success of an industry. This proves particularly true for the digital economy. From the standpoint of the Saxon IT and software sector, the access to broadband in the entire Free State represents a necessary improvement. A comprehensive infrastructure is the basis for new company launchings and permanent settlement in the digital economy. Moreover, a targeted promotion and settlement policy may affect Saxony to advance its potential as a future location for cloud-computing capacities. Such promotion measures have to be designed independent of individual technologies and shall be limited to undersupplied areas, where none of the technologies available enable an economic boom. A devaluation of already made or planned investments must be avoided. Otherwise, considerable market distortions as well as negative effects on the willingness to invest in a further extension of the broadband access and on commercial initiatives in the rural areas are to be expected.
Saxon software and IT sector open for joint initiatives with Saxon state government
As several federal initiatives and initiatives in other federal countries have done, the software and IT industry in Saxony can illustrate the direction of the increasing cross-linking of digital and classic infrastructures within Saxony by means of a strategic policy paper. This means smart infrastructures as in transport systems, industrial production, energy business, health and education sectors. As Prof. Dr. Frank Schönefeld, head of the Silicon Saxony work group Software Saxony and member of the T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH board states: "The Saxon software and IT industry supports a strategic approach within the scope of the technological future trends as Smart Cities, Smart Mobility, Smart Health or Smart Education. The associations Silicon Saxony, BITKOM, the IT Bündnis Chemnitz and the IT cluster Mitteldeutschland have offered the Saxon state government to launch a joint initiative with the objective of extending the Saxon software and IT sector. If sector and politics are able to pave the way, 'Software Saxony' may successfully follow in the footsteps of 'Silicon Saxony'.