In 2005, Saxony-Anhalt restructured its research by launching the initiative on Networks of Scientific Excellence. Research funding mechanisms were focused on research priorities, cooperation networks and location profiles over and above the regular university budget; the universities were encouraged to align their development concepts accordingly. This approach leads to scientific excellence and thus has a positive impact on the partnership between science and industry.

In order to ensure continuity, the Research and Innovation framework agreement between the government and the universities was renewed for a further five years from 2011; it aims to consolidate the initial development towards strengthening research priorities and networks.

In the Regional Innovation Strategy 2014–2020 (RIS), which highlights the common goals and the course of strategic action in the region, Saxony-Anhalt underlined its commitment to increasing its market-oriented research and development funding, to focusing the funding on identified scientific and economic emphases in lead markets, and also to stepping up its activities to attract businesses with internal R&D activities, encouraging them to settle in the region.

As a result, the RIS outlines all established core competencies of the research sector and industry.

The main objective is to place the research and development work conducted in universities and business-related non-university research facilities even more effectively at the disposal of the private sector and to intensify knowledge and technology transfer across the board in the interests of sustainable growth.

Most activities focus on the five lead markets that were defined as being particularly significant for Saxony-Anhalt‘s economy – energy, machines and plant construction/resource efficiency, health and medical science, mobility and logistics, chemistry and biotechnology and, lastly, food and agriculture – which, in turn, display pronounced future potential and the advantages of specialisation necessary for further expansion.