The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the largest organisation for applied research in Europe. It conducts research under contract for industry, the service sector and public administration and also offers information and services. The association takes its name from Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826), the illustrious Bavarian researcher, inventor and entrepreneur.
One of its most famous inventions is MP3, which was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS. MP3 is the most widely used method for encoding and decoding digital audio data.
A total of 72 institutes and research facilities work together under the umbrella of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Fraunhofer Institutes work for clients in business as well as for the Federal Government and the German states (Länder). They aim to make research findings usable in products and applications. For that purpose, Fraunhofer Institutes can draw on the expertise of international teams of experienced developers and creative minds, as well as on their own research departments.
Facts and figures
72 Fraunhofer Institutes and research units
Affiliated international research centres and representative offices
More than 25,000 employees, including over 9,000 scientists and scientific staff
Annual budget: 2.3 billion euros (2017)
608 patent applications (2017)
The organisation’s research focuses on the needs of people in the areas of
Health and environment
Security and protection
Communication and knowledge
Mobility and transport
Energy and resources
Production and supply of services
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is engaged in a number of international activities, mainly in Europe, North and South America, Asia and the MENA region.
In addition, Fraunhofer participates in international networks and organisations like the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO), the Global Research Alliance (GRA) and the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO).
The annual budget amounts to 2.3 billion euros (2017). The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is primarily funded through contract research. Although over two thirds of its assignments come from industrial and service-sector companies, it also realises publicly funded research projects. Basic funding is provided by the Federal Government and the Länder.