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Fraunhofer Society

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e. V.
Industry Applied contract research
Founded 1949 (1949)
Headquarters Munich, Germany
Key people
Reimund Neugebauer (President)
Number of employees
Fraunhofer-Institut Schmallenberg

The Fraunhofer Society (Max Planck Society, which works primarily on basic science). It employs around 23,000 people, mainly scientists and engineers, with an annual research budget of about €1.7 billion.[1] Some basic funding for the Fraunhofer Society is provided by the state (the German public, through the federal government together with the states or Länder, “owns” the Fraunhofer Society), but more than 70% of the funding is earned through contract work, either for government-sponsored projects or from industry.

It is named after Joseph von Fraunhofer who, as a scientist, an engineer, and an entrepreneur, is said to have superbly exemplified the goals of the society.

The organization has seven centers in the United States, under the name “Fraunhofer USA”, and three in Asia.[2] In October 2010, Fraunhofer announced that it would open its first research center in South America.[3] Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd was established along with the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics, in Glasgow, Scotland, in March 2012.


  • The Fraunhofer Model 1
  • Institutes 2
  • Fraunhofer USA 3
  • Notable projects 4
  • History 5
  • Presidents 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

The Fraunhofer Model

The so-called "Fraunhofer Model" has been in existence since 1973 and has led to the society's continuing growth. Under the model, the Fraunhofer Society earns about 70% of its income through contracts with industry or specific government projects. The other 30% of the budget is sourced in the proportion 9:1 from federal and state (Land) government grants and is used to support preparatory research.

Thus the size of the society's budget depends largely on its success in maximizing revenue from commissions. This funding model applies not just to the central society itself but also to the individual institutes. This serves both to drive the realisation of the Fraunhofer Society's strategic direction of becoming a leader in applied research as well as encouraging a flexible, autonomous and entrepreneurial approach to the society's research priorities.


The Fraunhofer Society currently operates 67 institutes and research units. These are Fraunhofer Institutes for:

  • Algorithms and Scientific Computing – SCAI
  • Applied Information Technology – FIT
  • Applied and Integrated Security – AISEC
  • Applied Optics and Precision Engineering – IOF
  • Applied Polymer Research – IAP
  • Applied Solid State Physics – IAF
  • Biomedical Engineering – IBMT
  • Building Physics – IBP
  • Cell Therapy and Immunology - IZI
  • Central and Eastern Europe - MOEZ
  • Ceramic Technologies and Systems – IKTS
  • Chemical Technology – ICT
  • Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics – FKIE
  • Communication Systems – ESK
  • Computer Graphics Research – IGD
  • Digital Media Technology – IDMT
  • Electron Beam and Plasma Technology – FEP
  • Electronic Nano Systems – ENAS
  • Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology – UMSICHT
  • Embedded Systems and Communication - ESK
  • Experimental Software Engineering – IESE
  • Factory Operation and Automation – IFF
  • High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques – FHR
  • High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut – EMI
  • Industrial Engineering – IAO
  • Industrial Mathematics – ITWM
  • Information Center for Regional Planning and Building Construction – IRB
  • Integrated Circuits – IIS
  • Integrated Systems and Device Technology – IISB
  • Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems – IAIS
  • Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology – IGB
  • Laser Technology – ILT
  • Machine Tools and Forming Technology – IWU
  • Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research – IFAM
  • Manufacturing Engineering and Automation – IPA
  • Material and Beam Technology – IWS
  • Material Flow and Logistics – IML
  • Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies – IWKS
  • Mechanics of Materials – IWM
  • Medical Image Computing – MEVIS
  • Microelectronic Circuits and Systems – IMS
  • Modular Solid-State Technologies - EMFT
  • Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology – IME
  • Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut – HHI
  • Non-Destructive Testing – IZFP
  • Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation – IOSB
  • Open Communication Systems – FOKUS
  • Photonic Microsystems – IPMS
  • Physical Measurement Techniques – IPM
  • Process Engineering and Packaging – IVV
  • Production Systems and Design Technology – IPK
  • Production Technology – IPT
  • Reliability and Microintegration – IZM
  • Secure Information Technology – SIT
  • Silicate Research – ISC
  • Silicon Technology – ISIT
  • Solar Energy Systems – ISE
  • Structural Durability and System Reliability – LBF
  • Systems and Innovation Research – ISI
  • Technological Trend Analysis – INT
  • Surface Engineering and Thin Films – IST
  • Toxicology and Experimental Medicine – ITEM
  • Transportation and Infrastructure Systems – IVI
  • Wind Energy and Energy System Technology – IWES
  • Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut – WKI

Fraunhofer USA

In addition to its German institutes, the Fraunhofer Society operates seven US-based Centers through its American subsidiary, Fraunhofer USA:

  • Coatings and Laser Applications – CCL
  • Experimental Software Engineering – CESE
  • Laser Technology – CLT
  • Molecular Biotechnology – CMB
  • Manufacturing Innovation – CMI
  • Sustainable Energy Systems – CSE
  • Digital Media Technologies – DMT

Notable projects

  • The MP3 compression algorithm was invented and patented by Fraunhofer IIS.[4] Its license revenues generated about € 100 million in revenue for the society in 2005.[5] The side-effects of that were a serious decline of the reputation of Fraunhofer in open source communities and the adoption of a competing sound format, Ogg Vorbis. Later on even Google avoided the Fraunhofer developed sound and video formats by acquiring a company that developed the WebM video format. As a result, YouTube runs with WebM, not the Fraunhofer video formats that are often not supported by many open source operating system distributions.
  • The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) was a significant contributor to the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video compression standard, a technology recognized with two Emmy awards in 2008 and 2009.[6] This includes the Fraunhofer FDK AAC library.[7]
  • As of May 2010, a metamorphic triple-junction solar cell developed by Fraunhofer's Institute for Solar Energy Systems holds the world record for solar energy conversion efficiency with 41.1%, nearly twice that of a standard silicon-based cell.[8]
  • Fraunhofer is developing a program for use at IKEA stores, which would allow people to take a picture of their home into a store to view a fully assembled, digital adaptation of their room.
  • E-puzzler, a pattern-recognition machine, which can digitally put back together even the most finely shredded papers. The E-puzzler uses a computerized conveyor belt that runs shards of shredded and torn paper through a digital scanner, automatically reconstructing original documents.[9]
  • OpenIMS


A German stamp: 50 years of the Fraunhofer Society

The Fraunhofer Society was founded in Munich on March 26, 1949 by representatives of industry and academia, the government of Bavaria, and the nascent Federal Republic.

In 1952, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs declared the Fraunhofer Society to be the third part of the non-university German research landscape (alongside the German research councils (DFG) and the Max Planck Institutes). Whether the Fraunhofer Society should support applied research through its own facilities was, however, the subject of a long-running dispute.

From 1954, the Society's first institutes developed. By 1956, it was developing research facilities in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense. In 1959, the Fraunhofer Society comprised nine institutes with 135 coworkers and a budget of 3.6 million Deutsche Mark.

In 1965, the Fraunhofer Society was identified as a sponsor organization for applied research.

In 1968, the Fraunhofer Society became the target of public criticism for its role in military research.

By 1969, Fraunhofer had more than 1,200 employees in 19 institutes. The budget stood at 33 million Deutsche Mark. At this time, a "commission for the promotion of the development of the Fraunhofer Society" planned the further development of the Fraunhofer Society (FhG). The commission developed a financing model that would make the Society dependent on its commercial success. This would later come to be known as the "Fraunhofer Model".

The Model was agreed to by the Federal Cabinet and the Bund-Länder-Kommission in 1973. In the same year, the executive committee and central administration moved into joint accommodation at Leonrodstraße 54 in Munich.

The Fraunhofer program for the promotion of the consulting research for SMEs was established, and has gained ever more significance in subsequent years.

In 1977, the political ownership of the society was shared by the Ministries of Defense and Research.

By 1984, the Fraunhofer Society had 3,500 employees in 33 institutes and a research budget of 360 million Deutsche Mark.

By 1988, defense research represented only about 10% of the entire expenditure of the Fraunhofer Society.

By 1989, the Fraunhofer Society had nearly 6,400 employees in 37 institutes, with a total budget of 700 million Deutsche Mark.

In 1991, the Fraunhofer Society faced the challenge of integrating numerous research establishments in former East Germany as branch offices of already-existing institutes in the Fraunhofer Society.

In 1993, the Fraunhofer Society's total budget exceeded 1 billion Deutsche Mark.

In 1994, the Society founded a US-based subsidiary, Fraunhofer USA, Inc., to extend the outreach of Fraunhofer's R&D network to American clients.

Its mission statement of 2000 committed the Fraunhofer Society to being a market and customer-oriented, nationally and internationally active sponsor organization for institutes of the applied research.

Between 2000 and 2001, the institutes and IT research centers of the GMD (Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung – Society for Mathematics and Information technology) were integrated into the Fraunhofer Society at the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

The year 2000 marked a noteworthy success at Fraunhofer-Institut for Integrated Circuits (IIS): MP3, a lossy audio format which they developed, is the most widely adopted method for compressing and decompressing digital audio.

In 2002, ownership of the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut for Communications Technology Berlin GmbH (HHI), which belonged to the Gottfried William Leibniz Society e. V. (GWL), was transferred to the Fraunhofer Society. With this integration the Fraunhofer Society budget exceeded €1 billion for the first time.

In 2003, the Fraunhofer Society headquarters moved to its own building in Munich.

The Fraunhofer Society developed and formulated a firm specific mission statement summarizing fundamental targets and codifying the desired "values and guidelines" of the society's "culture". Amongst these, the society committed itself to improving the opportunities for female employees and coworkers to identify themselves with the enterprise and to develop their own creative potential.

In 2004, the former "Fraunhofer Working Group for Electronic Media Technology" at the Fraunhofer-Institut for Integrated Circuits (IIS) gained the status of an independent institute. It becomes Fraunhofer-Institut for Digital Media Technology IDMT.

New alliances and topic groups helped to strengthen the market operational readiness level of the institutes for Fraunhofer in certain jurisdictions.

In 2005, two new institutes, the Leipzig Fraunhofer-Institut for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI), and the Fraunhofer Center for Nano-electronic technologies CNT in Dresden, were founded.

In 2006, the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) was founded as a merger between the Institute for Autonomous Intelligent Systems (AIS), and the Institute for Media Communication (IMK).


See also


  1. ^ Employees (December 2012). "Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft: About Us (Employees)". Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft organizational web site. Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  2. ^ Staff (March 2006). "Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft: International Locations". Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft organizational web site. Retrieved 2006-06-06. 
  3. ^ Staff (October 2010). "Fraunhofer in Chile". Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft organizational web site. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  4. ^ "The mp3 History". Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  5. ^ "UK in Germany". 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  6. ^ "Heinrich Hertz Institute - Another EMMY for H.264". Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  7. ^ "Ten facts about the Fraunhofer FDK AAC Codec Library for Android™". Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. 2012. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  8. ^ "High efficiency concentrator solar cells and moduls - Research-News-Special-Edition-05-2010-Topic 2". 2010-05-19. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  9. ^ (Jan 20, 2008) Reassembling a puzzle with 600 million pieces.Toronto Star . Retrieved on December 2nd, 2010
  10. ^ Chronicle of Fraunhofer Society

External links

  • Official website
  • Fraunhofer USA official website
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