Bremen, February 2, 2021 – “The Corona crisis has relentlessly exposed Germany’s weaknesses in digitization – nevertheless, we achieved a great deal in the past year,” said CEO Peter Ganten, summarizing Germany’s situation at the Univention Summit 2021 on January 29. Under the slogan “Digital Sovereignty – Spread possibilities, not dependencies”, representatives from the IT industry and user organizations gathered at the central meeting point of the German open source community. They informed themselves on trends in IT modernization and exchanged tips and solutions for more digital sovereignty in 35 lectures, workshops and round tables. 26 partners from the IT industry participated. In its 13th year, the event was purely virtual for the first time. However, this format was very well received by the more than 600 active participants of the various live streams, virtual demo points and digital group rooms. In comparison to 2020, Univention registered a significant increase in the number of participants.

Exciting discussions and clear demands on the topic of digital sovereignty

In the panel discussion “Digital Sovereignty in Public Administration”, the Bremen State Council Dr. Martin Hagen stated that “we have to elaborate digital sovereignty, because we are not yet sovereign”. He demanded a corresponding “change in contracting practices at the federal and state level”. Schleswig-Holstein’s CIO Sven Thomsen noted: “Digital sovereignty does not mean isolation, but expanding one’s ability to act.” Dr. Johann Bizer, CEO of Dataport, underlined that with Phoenix, they will enable an extremely important project for more digital independence for the public sector. Peter Ganten’s résumé of the discussion was: “The clear message is that here in the north we are making joint progress in achieving digital sovereignty and thereby implemented open source solutions long ago instead of just talking about it.”

Announcement of new partnerships and solutions

With this in mind, Univention CEO Peter Ganten announced in his keynote a closer partnership with Open-Xchange and Nextcloud for the development of an open source workstation for office work and collaborative work for public administration: the Sovereign Productivity Suite (SPS). Another important project is an ID broker Univention will design and develop together with the state of Bremen and the mathematics learning platform Bettermarks. By the new school year, this should enable to network different digital educational offerings, for example from textbook publishers, software providers or open education resources, nationwide via a standardized central authentication interface.
In his opening keynote, Ganten also highlighted important company successes and developments in the pandemic year: With SCS, Univention supports one of the fundamental cloud standards for the European Gaia-X project. Furthermore, with the project of an open source code repository, it supported (in cooperation with the Open Source Business Alliance and Vitako) an important initiative towards digital sovereignty in the digitization of administration. At the same time, the company tripled the number of users of its solutions in 2020 and once again accelerated turnover growth from 20 percent in 2019 to over 35 percent.
Nevertheless, Ganten cautioned not to take it easy: “The necessity for even better digital education offers, to integrate them and to modernize the IT infrastructure across Germany remains in order to break free from the dependence on a few providers.”

Highlights from the lectures

In their keynotes, the head of the Federal Agency for Leap Innovations (SPRIND), Rafael Laguna, classified digital sovereignty with the help of open source in Immanuel Kant’s sense as an “exit from self-inflicted immaturity”. Nextcloud boss Frank Karlitschek addressed the roadmap of the new collaboration and communication platform Nextcloud Hub in his presentation, and Indra Cloet from agorum explained the special requirements companies are facing against the backdrop of accelerated digitization and a simultaneous shortage of skilled workers.
The complete keynotes as well as all other presentations of the event will soon be available on the Univention YouTube channel.

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