German IT summit

Today, in Potsdam,  some serious  German Government heavyweights, academics and business types are getting together to talk about the future of IT in Germany.  I’ve written before (It was my very first post)  that the US software industry has benefitted tremendously from state support, and it is about time that the governments in Europe started to invest in the future of IT rather than just  subsidizing cows.

Check out this book Martin Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry, MIT Press, Cambridge Mass., 2003.   

The likely prime reason for U.S. software supremacy is a paradoxical one –government support for the industry. The paradox arises from the fact that, although the United States is non-interventionist in principle, in practice it promoted the early industry massively by creating a market for computers and software through programs such as the SAGE project, the Department of Defense’s ADP program, and the NASA program, to mention only the largest..”

Anyway, back to Berlin.

Potsdam/Berlin. The German federal government will hold its first national IT Summit on Monday, December 18, 2006 at the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Potsdam. Under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), eight working groups of high-ranking participants will develop suggestions and approaches aimed at improving the quality and international competitiveness of Germany’s information technology (IT) sector. Merkel will also discuss current topics with HPI students and scientists. The IT Systems Engineering Program at the Hasso Plattner Institute, which is the only university-affiliated educational institute in Germany financed entirely by private means, transforms talented young computer science students into IT engineers. The National IT Summit will function as a discussion forum for business, science and politics, and it marks the first time that the current government will hold a summit outside the Chancellor’s office.

The German Chancellor has a podcast message here talking about the plans for the Summit.  She requests that “Made in Germany” also develops into the quality symbol for IT-products.   This will take more than just a summit, but it is good to see the government listening and getting engaged. (BTW The chancellor’s website is pretty good, podcasts and so on…)

It is symbolic that this meeting is taking place in a private university, rather than in some government building, and it is great to see SAP’s founders investing in Germany’s IT future. 

You can listen via livestream this afternoon or get the podcasts on the HPI site. (In German only)   I’ll listen tonight, and I’ll let you know what went on, although government German is a challenge. Actually most government speak is rather opaque.

Sir Humphrey: “Well Minister, if you ask me for a straight answer, then I shall say that, as far as we can see, looking at it by and large, taking one thing with another in terms of the average of departments, then in the final analysis it is probably true to say, that at the end of the day, in general terms, you would probably find that, not to put too fine a point on it, there probably wasn’t very much in it one way or the other. As far as one can see, at this stage.”



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