Lighthouse projects – Reducing Time to Market

Fraunhofer is tackling the current challenges facing industry head on. Its lighthouse projects put the focus on strategic objectives with a view to developing practical solutions from which economies such as Germany’s can benefit. The topics these projects address are geared towards economic requirements. By pooling their expertise and involving industrial partners at an early stage, the Fraunhofer Institutes involved in the projects aim to turn original scientific ideas into marketable products as quickly as possible. 

COGNAC – Cognitive Agriculture

Fraunhofer-Leitprojekt »Cognitive Agriculture«
© iStock/Fraunhofer IESE

In the lighthouse project “Cognitive Agriculture”, eight Fraunhofer Institutes under the leadership of the Fraunho-fer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern are conducting joint research on  basic principles for producing agricultural products that are as environmentally friendly and resource-saving as they are highly efficient. Solutions include sensor technology for data collection as well as digitalization and automation of agricultural processes. The idea is to make the analysis of highly complex interactions between biosphere and production usable in an ecosystem of networked data and services (“Agricultural Data Space”) and to have it provide decision support.

"futureAM" – Next Generation Additive Manufacturing

Mit Additive Manufacturing gefertigtes Metallbauteil
© Fraunhofer ILT

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has created futureAM to systematically and continuously develop the additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic components. For this purpose, six project partners – the Fraunhofer Research Institution IAPT and the Fraunhofer Institutes IFAM, IGD, ILT, IWS and IWU, all with a wealth of experience in the field of additive manufacturing, have entered into a strategic project partnership with two major goals: 1.: Establishing a comprehensive cooperation platform for the highly integrated cooperation and use of the decentrally distributed resources of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in the field of AM and 2.: creating the technological prerequisites to increase scalability, productivity and quality of AM processes in a way relevant to praxis for the production of tailor-made metal components.

Go Beyond 4.0 – Digital printing and laser processes

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project "Go Beyond 4.0"
© Fraunhofer

Digital printing and laser technologies are as yet only rarely used for the individualization of products in mass production. However, this combination of approaches would make it possible to create individualized series products in a resource-efficient and cost-saving manner, even down to manufacturing single unique items. Mastering this challenge is the objective of the new Fraunhofer lighthouse project "Go Beyond 4.0".

ZEPOWEL – Towards Zero Power Electronics

Massive MIMO Transmitter
© Fraunhofer IAF

In Fraunhofer‘s lighthouse project, the development of a extremely energy-efficient and modular hardware creates the basis for a comprehensive Internet of Things.

QUILT – Quantum Methods for Advanced Imaging Solutions

The discovery of quantum mechanics is one of humankind’s most momentous achievements. It provides access to the world of molecules, atoms and subatomic building blocks, and also to the macroscopic world of stars and galaxies. The technological and societal development of our civilization is inconceivable without applications from quantum physics: Billions of electronic transistors permeate our lives at home and at work, in the form of computers, smartphones or the control systems of modern cars and inconspicuous kitchen appliances. Countless photons and optical fibers interlink our globe right into its farthest corners. Quantum physics lies at the heart of many modern technologies. The first generation of quantum technologies forms the basis of semiconductor and laser technology, for example.

Finished lighthouse projects

Critical Rare Earths

The purpose of the rare earth metals project is to assure industry's access to these and other critical resources. Rare earth metals are needed for example to produce the powerful magnets employed in wind turbines and electric motors. In the course of the project, solutions will be developed for both the substitution and the recycling of the rare earth metals neodymium and dysprosium.

Theranostic Implants

The Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project »Theranostic Implants« aims to develop active implants that combine therapeutic and diagnostic functions in a single medical device. To this end, Fraunhofer researchers are developing the following three demonstrators: a smart hip-joint prostheses, a sensor implant for monitoring blood circulation and a myoelectric prosthetic hand controller.

Electricity as a Raw Material

Ten Fraunhofer Institutes led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have joined forces to work on the Fraunhofer lead project “electricity as a raw material”. Their aim is to develop and optimize processes that enable low-carbon power to be used to synthesize important base chemicals. 


What will the manufacturing industry of tomorrow look like? E³ stands for Efficiency, Emissions reduction, and Ergonomics. The E³ project aims to develop concepts and technologies that support integrated materials-flow and energy management. Equal importance is attached to developing instruments that evaluate energy efficiency and integrate ergonomic aspects into production.


As part of its electromobility systems research project, Fraunhofer developed various prototype components with a view to putting more electric vehicles on the road. 

Cell-Free Bioproduction

Producing proteins without cells in industry suited dimensions – that was the ambitious goal of the Fraunhofer project »Cell-Free Bioproduction«. Scientists and engineers out of eight different Fraunhofer-Institutes worked in this interdisciplinary research project and developed biotechnological processes that can synthesize proteins without using living cells.