Fraunhofer Gesellschaft 640x360

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the world’s leading applied research organisation. With its focus on developing key technologies that are vital for the future and enabling the commercial exploitation of this work by business and industry, Fraunhofer plays a central role in the innovation process.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a recognized non-profit organisation that takes its name from Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826), the illustrious Munich 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. 

Organisational details

A total of 74 institutes and research institutions 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

74 Fraunhofer Institutes and research units
Affiliated international research centres and representative offices  

Roughly 28,000 employees, the majority being qualified scientists and engineers

Annual budget: 2.8 billion euros (2019)

623 patent applications (2019)

Research activities

Forming the core focus of Fraunhofer’s research portfolio, the seven Fraunhofer Strategic Research Fields aim to address needs and markets that will shape the future:

  • Bioeconomy
  • Digital Healthcare
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Next Generation Computing
  • Quantum Technologies
  • Resource Efficiency and Climate Technologies
  • Hydrogen Technologies

Within these fields, the pre-competitive research specifically targets projects that have high commercial potential, thereby enhancing the impact on society and across multiple sectors.

International activities

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 such as 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). 


Budget Fraunhofer
Source: Fraunhofer

The annual budget amounts to 2.8 billion euros (2019). Of this sum, 2.3 billion euros is generated through contract research. Around 70 per cent of Fraunhofer’s contract research revenue is derived from contracts with industry and publicly funded research projects. The remaining 30 per cent comes from the German federal and state governments in the form of base funding.




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