Tech Middle Power Workshop 2024

 Fostering Germany-Israel Cooperation in the New Geopolitical Landscape

Bonn, May 2-3, 2024

As the geopolitical tensions between the United States and China intensify, there is a growing need for middle powers to collaborate and promote regional stability. Israel and Germany, with their advanced technological capabilities and historical ties to the US, are uniquely positioned to enhance cooperation across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

The Tech Middle Power Workshop, held in Bonn on May 2-3, 2024, aimed to collectively explore and develop new cooperation mechanisms to manage the growing polarization between the US and China. Geopolitical tensions negatively impact open economies, particularly in technology, research, and education sectors. By leveraging the Israel-German relationship, the workshop sought to foster tech middle power cooperation, involving experts in technology and innovation policies. This collaboration is vital for both countries and regional and transregional partners facing similar economic and societal challenges amid superpower competition.

The workshop brought together promising young scholars, experts, and senior academics from Israel, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, India, and other relevant partners to explore joint research themes and foster collaboration in critical technology sectors.

The event was organised by Dr. Gedaliah Afterman from the Abba Eban Institute for Diplomacy & Foreign Relations, Reichman University (Israel), and Prof. Maximilian Mayer from the Center for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Studies (CASSIS), University of Bonn (Germany). Partners included the German Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development, the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace and Regional Integration, Institute for International Cooperation Technological Diplomacy and Communication, CASSIS, University of Bonn, Reichman University, and NRW Staatskanzlei, Landesbüro Israel.

Tech Middle Power Workshop
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.v. Michael Hoch, the rector of the University of Bonn, honored the international guests with a welcoming speech. © CASSIS

Day 1: Setting the Stage for Enhanced Cooperation

The first day focused on the current state of Germany-Israel science and technology cooperation in the evolving geopolitical landscape. Discussions centered around establishing standards, space technology cooperation, and the societal impacts of emerging technologies. Key outcomes included:

  • Recognition of the need for cohesive leadership messages to drive grassroots creativity and innovation.
  • Identification of potential areas for cooperation in space technology, despite current limitations in strategic autonomy.
  • Agreement on describing the “tech middle powers” as a distinct group of countries which increasingly rely on minilateral formats while facing similar challenges as well as leveraging their resources/capacities to deal with geopolitical turbulence.

The working groups focussed on different sutopics. © CASSIS

Day 2: Conceptualizing Insights and Forging Ahead

The second day built upon the insights from the first day, focusing on pragmatic steps towards enhanced cooperation. Discussions covered a range of sectors, including space, defence technology, energy, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and global governance. Significant outcomes included:

  • Proposal for a trilateral platform for defence technology cooperation among Germany, Israel, and the UAE, potentially hosted by Prof. Schlie and the University of Bonn.
  • Development of a framework for strategic technology cooperation in areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and space technologies.
  • Identification of new opportunities for collaboration in green hydrogen production and energy transition technologies.
  • Book project about “tech middle powers” featuring some of the discussions and results from the workshop.

Advancing Strategic Cooperation and Innovation

The Tech Middle Power Workshop successfully promoted German-Israeli scientific cooperation, laying the groundwork for enhanced collaboration in critical technology sectors. With the support of the rectorate of the University of Bonn as well as the Israeli embassy in Berlin, the event highlighted the complementary strengths of both nations and fostered new partnerships that could serve as models for other middle powers.

By creating a platform for dialogue and joint research, the workshop advanced the strategic goal of improving policy coordination and technological innovation between Germany and Israel amidst the dynamic geopolitical landscape. Furthermore, it underscored the importance of cooperation among middle powers in navigating geopolitical challenges and leveraging technological advancements for regional and global stability.

A panel discussion with Tal Inbar, Dr Naranayappa Janardhan, PD Dr Laura C. Mahrenbach, Dr Rita Strohmaier and Prof Dr Caja Thimm was part of the program on Day 1. © CASSIS
Prof Dr Caja Thimm & Dr Enrico Fels, University of Bonn. © Ralph Sondermann; CASSIS
Dr Yossi Mann, Reichman University & Dr Rita Strohmaier, IDOS. © Ralph Sondermann; CASSIS
Daniel Cohen, Reichman University. © Ralph Sondermann; CASSIS
Dr Eric Zimmerman, German Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development. © CASSIS

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