Thematic Developments and Knowledge Bases
For the thematic development in Germany based on the Forderkatalog (FK), the same categories are applied as for the European Framework Programmes, ensuring comparability of the EU and German data. In Fig. 11 the thematic development over time is depicted as percentage within each FP, i.e. every point indicates what fraction of projects within the time period can be associated with the different categories.
As in the EU FPs, there are key knowledge fields. Compared to the EU FPs, the German FK covers fewer topics—primarily satellite and space topics (SAT); the optimization of the manufacturing process and supply chains (OMP); quality and safety systems, non-destructive detection and repair systems (RSY); simulation, numerical models and computer-aided systems (SIM) and lasers, sensors and optics (LSO). Striking is the relevance of space and satellite (SAT) projects within Germany. Within the logic of the pyramidal funding, this may be seen as a core
Fig. 11 Thematic development of the funded projects in the German FK
competence of the German aerospace industry. Ranging between 23 % (in FP4, where parallel to the EU FP OMP was top-ranked) and 97 % (in FP7), the overall share of the aerospace topics over time is 67 %. As for the European case, the topics SIM and RSY can be directly related to the SAT development as they either are prerequisites for the improvement of satellite and space technology (in the case of SIM) or are the goal (in the case of RSY), where many projects are dedicated to earth observation with the help of satellites.
Remarkably, other technologies of core industry relevance are infrequently funded—e.g. materials, composites, lasers, sensors and electronics—despite the German aerospace industry proclaiming itself as strong (especially on the production side) in the domains of fuselage, fuselage-structures and complex cabin equipment. Nevertheless, according to the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, there is an extremely high R&D rate, with 18% of turnover reinvested and a strong perspective towards industrial applications and products within the German aerospace industry (Knnig 2006). As the thematic development reveals a strong focus on satellite and space topics, the question is how the R&D collaboration network is shaped. Since the focus rests on topics which require a strong scientific knowledge base, we might suppose that the share of EDU and ROR should be higher than in the EU FPs.