Fraunhofer in Italy
On December 21, 2009, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft established its third subsidiary in Europe: Fraunhofer Italia Research Konsortial-GmbH, domiciled in Bolzano. The South Tyrol Employers’ Association is a partner with the new limited liability company.
The collaboration has already proven its value. Numerous Fraunhofer institutes are collaborating on research projects with partners in Italy. “Italy is one of Europe’s largest national economies, so it is strategically significant as a partner nation,” explains Dr. Georg Rosenfeld, head of the corporate development department at Fraunhofer. “By establishing the Fraunhofer Italia subsidiary, Fraunhofer now has a new platform available which will considerably facilitate the establishment of additional branches in the future." Like the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany, Fraunhofer Italia will operate as an umbrella organization for various Fraunhofer Research Institutions.
The first Fraunhofer Research Institution in Italy is the “Fraunhofer Innovation Engineering Center IEC” in Bolzano, which is currently organized by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, together with the South Tyrol Employers’ Association and with the support of the Free University of Bolzano. The Center is primarily intended to support the numerous small- to medium-sized enterprises located in the Bolzano region that until now have had almost no access to applied research. “We view ourselves as an interface to the vast array of offerings from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft,” explains Prof. Dominik Matt, who will assume the management of the new Fraunhofer Center. The mechanical engineer, who earned his doctoral degree under the mentorship of Professor Dieter Spath, head of the IAO, was appointed to the Turin Institute of Technology in 2004, and then to the Faculty for Natural Sciences and Technology of the Free University of Bolzano in 2008.
The Fraunhofer researchers will conduct projects in international and interdisciplinary teams together with scientists from the University of Bolzano and partners from industry. Plans call for the development of a modular construction concept, for example. At the same time, particular emphasis is being placed on cooperation among all participants – from architects to skilled laborers. A universal, digitally-supported process chain will facilitate joint activities, from initial planning to final acceptance of the building.
Another focal point will be the service and tourism industry. A research and demonstration laboratory is currently underway that is intended to exhibit the most modern information and communications technology, and applications for product and services development. This will enable business professionals to learn about new technological systems – such as computer aided design, simulations, virtual reality or human models. If requested, the researchers can also conduct tests in the laboratory to determine whether and to what extent a customer will benefit from integrating the new technology.