On behalf of the German government, an independent jury is asked to select the five best pilot projects from 271 draft proposals on the subject of "innovative products based on new technologies and the associated production processes". Fraunhofer Institutes play a major part in three of the selected projects:
Innovative technologies and systems for virtual product creation, Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK
Modular diode laser-beam tools, Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Adaptive composite fibre structures for building panels, several Fraunhofer institutes, coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC.
The third Fraunhofer Forum deals with the topic of "Virtual reality and cyberspace - artificial world or a new media dimension?" The forum takes place in conjunction with the general assembly at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD.
The latest US center is founded in February at College Park, MD: the Fraunhofer Center for Software Engineering is a subsidiary of the Fraunhofer Establishment for Experimental Software Engineering IESE.
In May, in view of the positive economic developments in the participating European countries, the European Council makes its final decision: monetary union in Europe is to begin on January 1 1999. The German mark will cease to be legal tender on July 1 2002.
The end of the Kohl era: at the national elections in October, the social democrats and Green party obtain the parliamentary majority. Gerhard Schröder is elected chancellor. Edelgard Bulmahn is designated as new research minister.
The competence center for ultra-thin functional layers in the Dresden/Chemnitz region . comprising 10 institutes of higher education, 15 research establishments and 28 industrial firms, under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS - is among the six winners of the competition on "competence centers in the field of nanotechnology" sponsored by the federal ministry of research.
The Vision alliance, in which 16 Fraunhofer Institutes have joined together with the aim of coordinating their expertise in the field of automatic image processing systems, opens a joint liaison office in Erlangen, where customers can call and have their inquiries forwarded to the appropriate institute.
Four institutes join together in an alliance for surface technology, in order to consolidate their approach to the market. The members are the Fraunhofer Institutes for:
Thin Films and Surface Engineering IST, Brunswick
Material and Beam Technology IWS, Dresden
Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, Dresden
Laser Technology ILT, Aachen.
Degussa launches the new dental product "Definite" on the market. Developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC, the filling material is intended to replace amalgam.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology ISIT develops a lithium battery based on fixed ion conductors: not only does it outperform existing lithium batteries, its special construction makes it completely environmentally safe.
Commercial breakthrough is achieved for audio encoding techniques developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, IIS, Applied Electronics Department. MPEG-2 Layer 3, the most successful, is to be employed by three satellites transmitting digital radio broadcasts to the southern hemisphere from 1999 onward. The same technique has become the de facto worldwide standard for music transmission on the Internet in the course of 1998.
By pooling their expertise, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and for Thin Films and Surface Engineering IST, together with an industrial partner, succeed in gaining a place in the Frontier Carbon Technology research programme sponsored by the Japanese ministry of industry MITI. The group successfully competed against a number of national and international rivals.