Fraunhofer vs. Corona

Working at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic, Fraunhofer experts are supporting the efforts of industry and society to cope with the immediate effects and the consequences to come.

Fraunhofer vs. Corona

A new issue began to emerge at the turn of the year 2019/2020. It has since taken center stage in the public discourse and in the personal experience of individuals. The novel virus that the World Health Organization calls “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” has upended every aspect of public life. The WHO declared the outbreak of this virus to be “a public health emergency of international concern.” The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on day-to-day life, on people’s health, on businesses, on the domestic economy and on global trade. The current situation and the dynamic developments throughout Germany and across the world are posing major challenges for people. Working at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic, Fraunhofer experts are supporting the efforts of industry and society to cope with the immediate effects and the consequences to come. Critical life sciences projects, our close collaboration with businesses, joint challenges with partners, direct and indirect medical support – we are reporting on all this and more in our special feature on the “Fraunhofer vs. Corona” campaign.  

Maintaining innovative power and reducing the impact of the current crisis

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V.
© Fraunhofer | Bernhard Huber
Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V.

Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft:

“The current pandemic weakens our confidence in our ability to solve problems as quickly as needed. It will take a determined and concerted effort to deal with this public health crisis within a short time span – and to revitalize the economy once it is over. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is rising to this challenge with a series of sustainable measures in active pursuit of the innovative power of science and technology and the need to augment its impact even in times of crisis. In the immediate term, Fraunhofer’s priority is to secure immediate initial funding for urgently needed research, running to several million euros. In this context, we are focusing on projects in the medical and health sectors of direct relevance to the coronavirus crisis, including the development of a vaccine, innovative diagnostic techniques, the development of new drugs, putting into place a powerful IT infrastructure, and prioritizing relevant pre-competitive research. We also provide support by assisting manufacturers who make components for personal protective equipment (PPE). Now is the time to show our support for SMEs by making targeted, ad hoc offers of cooperation – and to help give mid-tier companies the innovation boost they need to get through this difficult period. Through such initiatives, we aim to promote home-grown expertise and know-how, thus safeguarding Germany’s and Europe’s role as technology leaders and maintaining the region’s technological sovereignty.”


Proximity tracing and the coronavirus pandemic: Fraunhofer’s proposal for a German approach

Proximity tracing apps are a digital option for efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic currently underway. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has developed an approach of its own for a German proximity tracing app. Using Bluetooth technology on cell phones to measure distance and time, it is to send digital notifications to people who are at risk of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. The aim is to develop an IT system with digital tools to augment health authorities’ processes.


Give a Breath Challenge

Initiated by Fraunhofer and Munich Re

In the face of the current crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, Munich Re and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft initiate a challenge for the purpose of pooling the most capable minds in order to alleviate the consequences for those heavily affected all around the globe.

That’s why Munich Re and Fraunhofer decided to initiate a global call for ideas to identify designs for emergency ventilators and necessary equipment, to decentrally treat COVID-19 patients in times of crisis.


Information of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft | March 18, 2020


The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s response and action it has taken to protect its employees, business partners and participants at Fraunhofer events




“We will rise to this challenge”

The Exscalate4CoV (E4C) consortium, which includes Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, has received three million euros in research funding from the European Commission’s emergency response fund to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Prof. Gerd Geißlinger, Executive Director of Fraunhofer IME comments: “Our team has the scientific excellence needed to rise to this challenge, which we accept without hesitation.”


“We have the virological expertise”

Dr. Sebastian Ulbert, virologist and head of the department of immunology and its vaccine technologies unit at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, envisages the possibility of fast-track scenarios, given the urgent need to develop drugs and vaccines against COVID-19. In our interview, he explains why this exceptional situation might justify foregoing the usual clinical trials on human subjects.


Prof. Dr. Armin Braun | Prof. Mark von Itzstein|

Finding a drug against corona

We interviewed two iCAIR® project managers, Professor Armin Braun of Fraunhofer ITEM in Hannover and Professor Mark von Itzstein of Griffith University in Australia, about their research activities and how they are facing the challenge of finding an effective drug.

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft publication database

The Fraunhofer Publica archive contains more than 225,000 Fraunhofer publications. We have compiled a list of publications related to the current corona pandemic. Full-text copies of all open access publications are available to you directly. 

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Current health research project examples

Drugs, diagnostics, devices and data are the four major areas of medical science.


C19 lung chip – Drug repurposing using a COVID-19 infection model in an immunocompetent lung-on-chip platform

Fraunhofer IGB, Fraunhofer IME, Fraunhofer IZI | May 18, 2020

The model is used to test the efficacy of drug candidates identified at Fraunhofer IME. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IGB, IZI and IME combine competences in conducting pharmaceutical studies in human OoC and in establishing infection models.

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CoroVacc – Development of a SARS-CoV-2 specific vaccine based on attenuated carrier viruses

Fraunhofer IGB | May 18, 2020

Due to a modular approach by the Fraunhofer Institutes IGB and IZI, the carrier virus can be developed with SARS‑CoV‑2 specific antigens at short notice and tested with regard to its vaccination effect.

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Fraunhofer research consortium iCAIR® uses synergies to develop new medications against SARS-CoV-2

Fraunhofer ITEM | May 7, 2020

The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has triggered a public health emergency of international concern. To date, there is neither a vaccine nor drugs for COVID-19 treatment available. Researchers of the international consortium iCAIR® are striving to develop novel anti-infective agents to treat or prevent clinically significant respiratory diseases caused by viruses, fungi and bacteria – and recently started a project to develop medications against SARS-CoV-2.

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Interview Prof. Armin Braun and Prof. Mark von Itzstein

ISE-CoV-2-Screen – Test systems for the identification of specific anti-corona molecules

Fraunhofer IGB | April 16, 2020

Fraunhofer IGB and the Fraunhofer Project Center for Drug Discovery and Delivery @ Hebrew University will use computational chemistry (Iterative Stochastic Elimination, ISE) to identify already approved molecules that block the penetration of the virus and evaluate them with a number of already established and new test systems.

Fraunhofer IGB

Fraunhofer Project Center for Drug Discovery and Delivery at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Research against the corona virus -  tissue models for rapid drug testing

Fraunhofer ISC | April 8, 2020

The pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is placing unprecedented restrictions on public life and economy. The global research efforts to fill the knowledge gaps regarding the new pathogen and to develop effective therapies are correspondingly large. In Wuerzburg, too, researchers from the Fraunhofer Translational Center for Regenerative Therapies are working together with the virologist Prof. Dr. Bodem from the University of Wuerzburg to identify active substances against the virus.

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Translational Medicine

Fraunhofer IME | March 12, 2020

The Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME is providing the key link between biologists and data scientists in the EU funded consortium E4C to counter the coronavirus pandemic.


The mobile Fraunhofer IBMT epidemiological laboratory (epiLab) in use for nationwide early detection and prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infections

Fraunhofer IBMT | April 22, 2020

The remarkable technological advance of the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT in the field of mobile epidemiological laboratories, as well as its long-time expertise in the setup of biological safety laboratories and its handling of biotechnological samples contributes in times of the Corona pandemic to the fight against SARS-CoV-2.

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© Fraunhofer IBMT, Video Bernd Müller

Production of a new antibody test system for the diagnosis of COVID-19

Fraunhofer EMB | April 8, 2020

The Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology and Cell Technology EMB in Lübeck is supporting EUROIMMUN AG in producing larger quantities of its new serological test systems for the diagnosis of COVID-19. EUROIMMUN is one of the first companies in Europe to offer a test for the determination of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in serum samples, which enables the identification of persons who have already had contact with the virus. This is important to find out who has already been through the infection. In addition, there is evidence that these tests detect those antibodies that are able to neutralize the virus and thus provide immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

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"Access Checker" to remotely gauge body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate

Fraunhofer IPA, Fraunhofer IAO | April 8, 2020

A novel measuring method is helping to spot coronavirus infections from a safe distance. It detects fever, elevated pulse rates and rapid breathing without endangering the individual taking the readings. Fraunhofer IPA and Fraunhofer IAO are testing the procedure at the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart.

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The corona rapid test in under 2.5 hours

Fraunhofer IZM | April 2, 2020

The number of people infected with the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is rapidly increasing worldwide. Affected countries are adopting new measures almost daily to contain the spread, while medical laboratories are working not only on a vaccine but also on new test methods. For the time being, Bosch wants to launch a new rapid test in Germany that shows a result at the test site in under 2.5 hours instead of the previous 2 days. This technical solution is based on a PoC analysis platform, which was developed together with Fraunhofer IZM in the EU project CAJAL4EU. The main objective of the project was to develop miniaturized biosensor technology platforms that enable fast, robust, user-friendly and cost-effective multi-parameter in vitro test applications. This project was supported by the EU (funding code: FP7-ENIAC-120215) and BMBF (funding code: 13N10925) within the framework of FP7.

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PGemeinsam mit ihren Projektpartnern präsentierten die IVV-Forscher Bernd Kramer (3.v.r.) und Dr. Peter Muranyi (2.v.r.) im August 2019 den neu entwickelten Plasma-Desinfektor.
© Plasmatreat

Plasma decontamination unit disinfects protective masks and clothing

Fraunhofer IVV | March 27, 2020

A compact plasma decontamination unit co-developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV can help disinfect protective masks and clothing and treat them for reuse. The Bavarian Red Cross is already conducting trials with this system.

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Prototyp des Handydesinfektionssystems.
© Thomas Westerhoff/Fraunhofer IOSB-AST

A fast, safe way of disinfecting smartphones with light

Fraunhofer IOSB | April 6, 2020

Researchers at Advanced System Technology AST, a department of the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB, have developed an innovative solution for disinfecting smartphones. In just a few seconds, it rids smartphones of bacteria and viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 using UVC light rather than costly chemicals. Further applications are entirely conceivable.

Fraunhofer IOSB, Advanced System Technology Branch

Fraunhofer IPT, Moss and IBF Automation build systems for the production of 50,000 surgical masks per day

Fraunhofer IPT | April 15, 2020

Surgical masks can intercept infectious droplets that are expelled when speaking, coughing or sneezing. They may help to protect other people from being infected with respiratory tract infections if the necessary safety distance cannot be maintained. The current shortage of surgical masks is making regular healthcare provision and the fight against the corona pandemic more difficult. Therefore, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT is now setting up a production plant for surgical masks in Germany together with the local machine builder IBF Automation GmbH on behalf of Moss GmbH.

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3D printer makes emergency ventilator system with integrated electronics and sensors

Fraunhofer IWU | April 2020

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU have developed a prototype for an emergency ventilator made by a 3D printer. Composed of biocompatible plastic, the device can be sterilized with steam. Its integrated electronics and sensors enable the operator to set and monitor this ventilation machine’s key parameters. The device alerts clinical users in the event of a disruption. Tested under realistic conditions using a phantom lung, the system proved its merits with physicians on hand to observe the trial.

Fraunhofer IWU

DRESDEN-concept: Partner to fight the coronavirus - 3D printing technology can be used to produce urgently needed parts for ventilators

Fraunhofer IWS | March 25, 2020

Due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, supply chains are currently partly interrupted, leading to bottlenecks in production. In various European countries, 3D printing companies have set up platforms to produce missing components through additive manufacturing processes, e.g. for ventilators, in order to support medical technology companies.

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Telemedical platform “ERIC” to improve intensive care

Fraunhofer FOKUS | March 30, 2020 

The ERIC Innovation Fund project, in which Fraunhofer FOKUS is involved as a project partner, successfully concludes patient recruitment this March under a selective agreement with BARMER. The telemedical platform set up for ERIC is currently being expanded for the COVID 19 location center in Berlin.

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Virtuelles Krankenhaus in Aachen
© Land NRW / Ralph Sondermann

NRW adopts Fraunhofer ISST tech to care for COVID-19 patients

Fraunhofer ISST | March 30, 2020

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia launched its ‘NRW Virtual Hospital’ ahead of schedule to provide the best treatment available to patients with severe cases of COVID-19. The Fraunhofer Institute for Software and Systems Engineering ISST’s Electronic Case File is a key component of this care provided with telemedical support.

Fraunhofer ISST


Central State-Wide Treatment Capacity Indicator (ZLB) for Rhineland-Palatinate

Fraunhofer IESE | 2020

The fight against COVID-19 has offered a stark reminder of what happens when hospital capacity is exhausted. It also confirms how important it is to get the full picture – that is, to keep track of all available hospital and ICU beds and specialized infrastructure such as trauma rooms, operating rooms and CT scanners. Working on behalf of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate to solve this problem, Fraunhofer IESE developed an innovative solution that posts these facts and figures in a web-based information system. The Central State-Wide Treatment Capacity Indicator for Rhineland-Palatinate (ZLB) is a real-time indicator that lists the current admissions capacity of hospitals throughout the state in a table and shows the figures on a map.

Fraunhofer IESE

Fraunhofer Austria processes data to support government ministries

Fraunhofer Austria | April 7, 2020

Fraunhofer Austria’s logistics experts are processing and preparing transport and trade data to help make Austria’s supply lines for essential goods more resilient during the corona crisis.

Fraunhofer Austria

Further information

Dr. Alexander Stolz, Daniel Hiller, Dr. Tobias Leismann, Fraunhofer EMI

Recovering strongly from the corona pandemic through Resilience Engineering

Worldwide, universities and research institutions work vigorously to quickly develop medical solutions, novel vaccines and alternative substances to quickly confine the current covid-19 pandemic. For years, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has been conducting research for applied solutions and concepts to be prepared before, during and after major crises. 

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, March 24, 2020

Scientists X-ray coronavirus proteins

Can the new coronavirus be stopped with drugs? So far, there is no cure for the infection. Research groups around the world are intensively searching for starting points for an active substance against SARS-CoV-2, as the virus was named by the World Health Organization (WHO). A series of experiments now beginning at DESY looks at three key proteins of the pathogen as possible drug targets. If the investigation is successful, it could considerably shorten the search for a drug.

CityLAB Berlin

Hack the Crisis Berlin Edition

CityLAB Berlin launched the online platform “Hack the Crisis” to support ideas and projects from the Berlin community around COVID-19. The platform is intended to promote the exchange between health authorities, science and IT experts and enables all those involved to submit suggestions or problems that will be worked on together. This is announced by the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS, whose Digital Public Services division is a partner in the initiative.

March 25, 2020

Open Science

Even in the current virus crisis, science is exploiting the potential of new, digital openness: Open Science. Scientists from all over the world gather their findings on a portal of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Blog entry Fraunhofer ITWM / 3.4.2020

How can statistics be used to determine the dark figure of corona infections?

On 2 April Germany reported 73,000 corona infections and 867 deaths. Italy complains over 100,000 infections and 12,000 deaths. Based on these figures, the case mortality rate in Italy is more than 10 times higher than in Germany. Experts are clear: this difference is less an expression of a different health care system or a different population structure, but rather an expression of unknown dark figures.

Fraunhofer IAO / IPA | March 26, 2020

FutureWork360: Just how virtual can research be?

Even at the best of times, it can be difficult coordinating joint projects and research, especially if partners are spread across different countries – or unable to travel because of a major international crisis. FutureWork360, a joint project by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, shows how new and, most especially, virtual forms of communication and collaboration can help.