Microtechnology sector focuses on sustainability


The microtechnology industry has managed the Corona crisis quite well and is currently focusing intensively on sustainability. The industry is concerned about the impending shortage of skilled workers and about political developments. The results of the industry survey conducted by the IVAM Microtechnology Network in spring 2022 reflect macroeconomic challenges.

Microtechnology industry already working sustainably in some areas and planning further steps

The topic of sustainability has arrived at the majority of the companies surveyed – a total of 78.3% operate sustainably to a greater or lesser extent. So far, 10.9% of respondents are operating completely sustainably. In some areas, 41.3% are sustainable and a sustainability concept is currently being developed at 26.1% of the companies. Only 6.5% state that they do not work sustainably and also have no concept in planning.

Innovations in the industry provide solutions to the energy and climate crisis

The survey has also asked about the microtechnology industry´s specific contribution to promoting sustainability in Germany and Europe. This takes the form of products and/or technologies that, for example, help to save resources, help to avoid climate damaging waste products or produce reusable materials.

30% of the companies and 23.1% of the research institutes state that their products are relevant to a sustainable or circular economy. In terms of technologies, the relevance of the industry is even clearer – 76.9% of institutes and 39.4% of companies are developing technologies that help promote sustainability.

Challenges due to the Corona pandemic mastered well

60% of companies report that their sales have increased in 2021 to the previous year. For 20%, sales have remained stable. A similar trend can be seen in employee numbers. At 50% of the companies surveyed, there was an increase in employee numbers in 2021. At 36.7%, the figure remained unchanged. Only exports grew to just a moderate extent. 23.3% of the companies stated that their exports had increased, while exports remained stable for 30.2% of companies. This could be an indication that production is increasingly shifting to the national market.  

In terms of forecasts, the mood at the time of the survey in February 2022 was also optimistic. The majority of respondents expect both sales and employee numbers to increase over the next three years (60% and 83.3% respectively). A renewed increase in exports was seen by 41.9% of companies in February. It remains to be seen whether this development will actually occur after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

Competition over skilled workers

In the last survey in 2020, the industry was already strongly confronted with the challenge if finding and retaining suitable skilled workers. The proportion of organizations that see this as an internal uncertainty factor has risen even further since then. For 70% of companies and 84.6% of research institutions surveyed, the issue of attracting and retaining skilled workers is the biggest uncertainty factor in terms of internal development opportunities.

Further results and graphics are available at https://www.ivam.de/research/economic_data