Collaboration with universities of applied sciences

Fraunhofer and universities

Universities, which unite research and education, are the heart of the scientific system. They play a key role in shaping scientific, cultural, social and business development in Germany. For Fraunhofer Institutes, it’s a matter of course to work closely with local universities. By doing this, excellent research is linked to practical application in professional business infrastructures, leading to a new level of quality in applied fields.

Joint offering in science and technology transfer

The basis for this close collaboration is the joint appointment of outstanding researchers as professors at the universities and as Fraunhofer institute directors. Through close personal ties on all levels, the results of university research can be applied efficiently and the joint science and technology transfer service expanded in a targeted manner. At the same time, integrating Fraunhofer scientists into university teaching broadens the provision for students.

Improving local innovation capacity

Constructive local collaboration helps to pool complimentary skills and build partner profiles. The Fraunhofer Institutes’ numerous industry contacts offer a wide range of networking opportunities and act as a catalyst for transfer and opening up research to society. National initiatives allow for system-relevant topics to emerge and for excellent research infrastructure to be used in a collaborative way. Excellence and international networking in innovation-focused research can be boosted in unison, young scientific talent can be promoted and flexible career paths through university, Fraunhofer and industry can be forged. As such, the active collaboration between Fraunhofer Institutes and universities is effectively a focal point for practical application of concepts, further developing the region and making the area more attractive to professors and students.

Established forms of collaboration

High-performance centers

High-performance centers provide the framework needed to align university and non-university research with business. Universities, higher education institutions, Fraunhofer Institutes and other non-university research institutions work closely with businesses and stakeholders from civil society at a single location to carry out applied research on specific topics in order to rapidly implement the latest innovations in a practical way. High-performance centers provide best-of-breed, cross-organizational infrastructure, vocational training programs and expertise. They bring together like-minded partners and provide the guidance needed to bring innovations to the market. This concept for regional cooperation in transfer-oriented high-performance centers has already been established in 16 locations across 10 German states.

Successful together with the Excellence Strategy

The aim of the German federal and state governments’ Excellence Strategy is to strengthen cutting-edge research and the international competitiveness of German universities in the long term. Thanks to the funding, these programs not only catalyze scientific excellence and raise the profile of the universities involved, but also encourage further networking and cooperation within the scientific system. As part of the initial funding line of the clusters of excellence, 34 universities were selected to receive funding − Fraunhofer being an associated partner and/or linked to the clusters via the involvement of Fraunhofer researchers at over half of the locations.

BMBF Research Campus

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding nine research campuses across Germany, each with a specific research focus, which work on sustainable solutions to complex research questions. The main idea behind the model is to pool expertise and the work of key researchers from industry and science in one location. By doing this, trans- and interdisciplinary research across the entire range, from basic research to application-oriented technology development, is worked on under one roof. Fraunhofer Institutes are integrated into seven research campuses, working closely with universities, non-university research institutions and industry partners.

Collaboration with universities of applied sciences

Universities of applied sciences play an important role in the German scientific system with their regional roots and training expertise. Early on, Fraunhofer acted on stimuli provided by the German government to involve universities of applied sciences in research and innovation activities. As part of the Fraunhofer application centers and the universities of applied sciences collaboration program, Fraunhofer has been developing an institutionalized program of collaboration with these universities since 2012. Joint research groups are formed under the leadership of a professor. Since 2016, the Cybersecurity Training Lab has been supplementing the programs.

Cybersecurity Training Labs

Since 2016, the Cybersecurity Training Lab has been using innovative learning formats to transfer current research findings on IT security to business and society in a practical and application-oriented way. To this end, selected Fraunhofer institutes collaborate with universities of applied sciences under the umbrella of the Fraunhofer Academy. The training courses offered are aimed at all organizations and their employees who deal with IT security: from specialists and managers to users in a wide range of industries.