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New impetus for applied research: Fraunhofer posts eleven percent growth

In fiscal 2007, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft increased its budget by eleven percent to 1.32 billion euros – and this is an on-going tendency. One reason for this continued growth is the good internal and external networking of the institutes.

“We can look back on a successful business year of above-average growth,” states Dr. Alfred Gossner, Senior Vice President Finance at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. “The finance volume grew by eleven percent compared with the previous year and now amounts to 1.32 billion euros. This is a new record level.” The finance volume comprises expansion investment as well as the budget for defense and contract research, Gossner explains. “Last year Fraunhofer invested 117 million euros in new buildings, expansion of existing buildings, and fixtures and fittings. Counting investments in new equipment as well, the investment volume reached its highest level ever. 39 million was expended on defense research. Expenditure on contract research rose by 132 million to 1.16 billion euros.” A number of factors contributed to the positive result. 2007 was a boom year for the economy and companies started to invest more in research and development again. Abroad, too, there was a growing demand for innovative technology “made in Germany”. This was also evident in the figures for the contract research sector, where revenues totaling €776 million were generated. The share arising from joint projects with industry amounted to €422 million, which was slightly above the previous year’s level and accounted for 38 percent of the total revenues. Fraunhofer also benefited from the more generous project funding at federal and state level as well as from the EU, which added up to €354 million in 2007. This success was not just due to external factors, however, believes Professor Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft: “It reflects the increasing emphasis we place on networking. The institutes are working together more closely on an interdisciplinary basis – the 53 Fraunhofer institutes which specialize in contract research have organized themselves into six thematic alliances over recent years. They work together to identify new areas of business and initiate research and development programs. At the same time, all the Fraunhofer institutes maintain close links with national and international competence centers. This rapid and flexible networking ability represents a decisive competitive advantage nowadays.” Fraunhofer utilizes this strength in cooperation with industry too. Under the banner “Success built on cooperation – a faster route from ideas to products”, 14 innovation clusters have already been created across Germany – and more are planned. Their purpose is to advance the exchange and regional cooperation between universities, research establishments and companies. “The outlook at the end of fiscal 2007 is excellent,” concludes Bullinger. “With our healthy order book and the positive effects of the federal government’s high-tech strategy, we can look forward to the future with optimism. Despite the expected weakening of the economy, we are confident that the revenue we earn will continue to rise. In the coming years our main objective will be to compete successfully for the best people around the world and attract enough excellent scientists to handle the growing volume of research work and generate further growth.”