Whoever talks about Germany is at times quick to criticize. The country is lacking innovation. We are lagging behind in terms of digitization, 5G expansion, comprehensive WLAN coverage and so on and so forth. We are also taking our time to set up a charging infrastructure for electric cars. Other countries, such as the Netherlands, are much faster, more innovative, getting on with it, a country with an ocean full of charging stations. And in general, everything is much better there. Germany, on the other hand, is a country with just under 83 million inhabitants which is often portrayed as the unbudging giant of Europe.
The trouble with numbers
And yes, it’s true. The Dutch are fast. They are rapidly paving the way for charging stations all over the country. Almost 44,000 of them have already been built. That’s more than enough to equip the 17 million or so inhabitants with e-cars. Consequently, every Dutchie could own at least two electric cars. Sounds good, doesn’t it? The trend is clearly moving towards having a second car …
However, if you look at how electricity is generated in the Netherlands, you will soon start to wonder. Only 7.4 percent of the electricity generated in our neighboring country comes from renewable resources. Coupled with electromobility, the image of this innovative country soon begins to falter. Yes to electromobility – but at what cost? In Germany, on the other hand, the proportion of electricity generated from renewable resources is 46.7 percent. Not bad for a country that has been described as lacking innovation
Mobile in the city
Speaking of electromobility. Even though e-scooters are currently available in Germany too – we weren’t the first. But at least we did it – they still can’t be found anywhere in the Netherlands. That means you either have to walk or ride your bike. But when it comes to shared mobility services, both countries feel like they are in the same league. You can rent anything that is fun and handy, from an e-car to an e-bike. All the other conventional four- and two-wheeled vehicles are also available for hire in the cities. Great. But has this reduced the volume of traffic in both countries yet?
Payment methods in Germany
How many payment options do we actually need? Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, i.e. payment by app, debit and credit card or cash. There are also many online payment methods: Paypal, by invoice, in advance, installments and so on. You would think that this choice would be enough for everyone in Germany. Critics will say: “Yes, but in certain restaurants only cash is accepted.” Sure, that’s so true. But that rings just as true the other way in innovative Sweden nowadays. For instance, in some restaurants, cash is no longer accepted. That might also annoy some people.
Anyone talking to medium-sized companies in Germany will soon find that they are far from happy about the lack of expansion with respect to infrastructure. Many companies are progressing far too slowly. That is an irrefutable fact. Yes, they perhaps waited too long (for whatever reason). For that matter, the situation is the same in the automotive industry. Development was neglected – other nations have reacted much more quickly. Now the industry is facing a hectic state of affairs at an operational level. Better late than never. But Germany is already experiencing a gloomier economic climate. Has the whiff of innovation already slipped away?
Agile start-up branch
Absolutely not. In Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Leipzig and many other cities, bustling start-ups show where it’s at. It’s not for nothing that Rob Jetten (leader of the liberal D66 political faction currently part of the Netherlands government), looks to the German capital for inspiration and is hoping for a “Berlin on the Rhine” in the future.
The think tanks not only provide sustainable, high-tech solutions for tomorrow’s world. In fact, they are determined to successfully navigate their way through the German regulatory jungle. Other, younger entrepreneurs are much more likely to be discouraged and give up. Start-up awards in Germany are booming, take investor events or related TV formats, for example. And the trend is on the rise. The start-up industry proves that there is no lack of ideas nor is there a lack of their implementation in Germany.
And what about mid-sized businesses?
Critics might now claim: the start-up scene accounts for only a small proportion of the concentration of businesses in Germany. But even small and medium-sized businesses are not sleeping. Many companies are on the lookout for new ideas, are focusing on digitization and are coming up with promising solutions. It is not for nothing that Germany has been the world’s leading exporter for years. Obviously, there are many interested parties around the world who value German know-how and products. How else would it be possible for Germany to have generated, according to the Ifo Institute, the world’s largest energy surplus for the third time in a row at the start of this year.
There is a lot to do
Nevertheless, there is still a lot to do in Germany. But not just here in Germany. Good and bad points can be found in every European country. The key words are exchange, sharing know-how and co-working – not a know-it-all attitude. Being world champions together, as you would hope to be, dear Floris, is all about finding solutions together and not just constantly slinging comparisons back and forth.
With innovative greetings,