Expertise consolidation: Fraunhofer establishes Innovation Research Group
An awareness of the complex effects of new technologies is critical for the success of entire economies. Structural changes due to technological developments must therefore be identified and understood at an early stage in order to be able to actively influence their long-term effects on society and on the economy in financial, social, political or also cultural terms. In future, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will strengthen its role in the research, technology and innovation policy related dialogue with businesses, policy-makers and society with a dedicated Innovation Research Group, thereby further emphasizing its position as a leading active stakeholder on the German innovation scene.
Technological change processes such as the digitalization result in a fusion of different life, experience and working worlds. They unlock new design possibilities but are also associated with fundamental change processes. Especially the rapid developments related to the digital transformation give rise to urgent questions for businesses, policy-makers and society that must be addressed. Some of these may call for swift action to ensure that the political framework conditions are on par with the technological progress. “With its wide range of expertise, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has been a reliable research partner for the economy for decades. On the basis of our excellent early basic research and market expertise, we are contributing primary transfer services that will safeguard value creation in Germany and Europe. Throughout this process, we are thoroughly aware of our responsibility to also support the political decision-makers with our expertise as best we can,“ explains Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, the president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. “Germany must occupy a leading position in the area of system relevant innovations and innovations with disruptive potential. For that reason, we have decided to establish a Fraunhofer Group that focuses on innovations with a special focus on socio-economic and socio-technical research.“
Key technologies for future oriented innovations
The new Fraunhofer Innovation Research Group began its work on 1 July 2017 and will initially consist of four research institutions with more than 500 staff: the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO in Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy in Leipzig, the Fraunhofer Institute for Technological Trend Analysis INT in Euskirchen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe. "With its clear focus on application oriented research and special interest in future relevant key technologies, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft plays a central role on the German and European innovation scene. In these regions, there is no other applied research institution with such a wide spectrum of technology expertise," emphasizes the Group's chairman Prof. Wilhelm Bauer, who is also the director of Fraunhofer IAO. "With the establishment of the new Group, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft intends to further expand its role in the areas of innovation process research and support, and research and support of the technological, ecological and social framework conditions that determine these processes. In this respect, the combination of our wide range of expertise with socio-economic and socio-technical research clearly makes us unique."
Technology related future issues with system relevance
The new Group will initially focus on strengthening the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's role in the research, technology and innovation policy dialogue with policy makers, businesses and society. It also sees itself as a platform for technology related future issues with system relevance. In this function, the new Group will flank a crucial undertaking by the recently launched Research Fab Microelectronics Germany (FMD): The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is investing around 350 million euros into state-of-the-art instruments and equipment at eleven Fraunhofer and two Leibniz institutes with the aim of one shared technology pool which the technological experts for future relevant issues can draw on. “They may work on the development of existing and new market or customer needs, the evaluation of disruptive business models and innovative services, or also on recommendations for technology roadmaps and innovation strategies. The aim is to add more international weight to the field of microelectronics as one of Germany's most important key technologies – we must work on this together in an interdisciplinary way,“ Neugebauer adds. “The development and implementation of new technologies always harbors an opportunity for taking the lead in strategically important transformations. We are therefore already triggering forward-looking impulses and a huge innovation potential at an early stage.“
Institutes working in related fields get together in Fraunhofer Groups and present themselves collectively on the market for research and development. The Groups actively contribute to the business policy and the implementation of the well-established structure and financing model of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The recently established Fraunhofer Innovation Research Group is the eighth such group – the others focus on the subjects of Information and Communication Technology, Life Sciences, Light & Surfaces, Microelectronics, Production, Defense and Security and Materials and Components.
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The Fraunhofer IMW can look back over ten years of applied socio-economic research and experience at the Leipzig location. Some 170 researchers from 20 countries help clients and partners from the business, industrial, political and science communities in addition to public institutions, to benefit from the innovation drivers globalization and digitalization. The institute's international projects, network activities and analyses focus on how people can benefit from socio-economic and applied research, as well as from the dynamics of a knowledge-based society and the future of industrial production. The interdisciplinary team of researchers provides businesses, organizations, institutions, countries, local communities and regions with sound technical support during strategic decision-making processes. Initially founded as the Center for Central and Eastern Europe (MOEZ) in 2006, the strategic realignment and new foci of the institute, which has been certified to the DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 DNV-GL standard, are expressed in the new name chosen in 2016, the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW. The institute's expertise focuses on innovation research, knowledge and technology transfer and corporate development in an international competitive environment.