How does Fraunhofer work with clients?
A typical case of collaboration: a company identifies a need for research or development, or would like to improve its processes, introduce an innovative new product to the market, resolve a logistical problem, or get a process checked and certified. A talk with Fraunhofer reveals possibilities for mastering the challenges, an appropriate collaborative model, and the probable costs. The collaboration – whether it’s on a small or large scale – is aimed at overcoming the obstacles and introducing the resulting innovation to the company’s operations or placing it on the market.
LARGE PROJECTS WITH MANY PARTICIPANTS
Some problems are so complex that multiple partners are needed to solve them. In cases like these, our clients can take advantage of the entire range of Fraunhofer Institutes. External partners and other companies can also be involved. Fraunhofer researchers have experience in efficiently and equitably running large projects. They also know what kinds of government support may be available.
Fraunhofer is also represented outside Germany. Many Fraunhofer employees have gained international experience, possess appropriate cultural and linguistic skills, and are personally familiar with markets worldwide. This allows us to serve internationally active companies in other countries as well.
Fraunhofer is committed to advancing promising new technologies. Preliminary research, conducted initially without being commissioned, frequently leads to long-term partnerships with companies. A good example is the Dortmunder OberflächenCentrum®, a research center in Dortmund, Germany, where enterprises of the steel industry collaborate with Fraunhofer institutes as well as technical and academic universities. The network’s declared goal is to develop and introduce new coating technologies.
INNOVATION CLUSTERS: NETWORKING TO BOOST PERFORMANCE
Complex projects can call for a wide range of skills and disciplines. Long-term collaboration by multiple research institutions and companies therefore makes good sense. To facilitate this, Fraunhofer created innovation clusters with support from the German federal government. Each such cluster brings together competent partners for performing demanding tasks. Besides industry and universities, locally-based research institutes are also involved and make important contributions. The geographical proximity of research organizations, investors, and enterprises promotes the development of networks that can in turn spawn new business ideas and startups. Regional innovation clusters close the gap between business and science. When successful, they stimulate competition while promoting fruitful cooperation that ultimately benefits all involved parties.
Researchers at Fraunhofer Institutes are creative and skilled at putting good ideas into practice. It’s common for them to found their own companies to harness the potential of a new discovery, product, or process. Fraunhofer itself only gets involved to a limited extent in these launches. Sometimes the sponsors of a new idea are themselves interested in investing in the spinoff. This enables them to benefit from its ongoing success and contribute to a technology’s further evolution. Such a spinoff typically remains in close touch with the Fraunhofer Institute from which it emerged. These new companies possess firsthand familiarity with the benefits of research collaboration and are keen on taking advantage of their contacts and continuing to work with Fraunhofer.