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Successful, even during the crisis

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's total funding hit a new record level of 1.4 billion euros last year. Another especially gratifying statistic: The research organization created and filled 1,400 new positions during the Fiscal Year 2008, so that as of today, it employs a total of 15,000 people.

“In spite of the global financial and economic crisis and the ensuing negative economic conditions, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft can look back on a successful fiscal year,” as Prof. Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, summarizes the result for the year 2008. “Fraunhofer was able to continue growing, and earnings soared in all areas.” The total funding grew to 1.4 billion euros, or six percent more than in the previous year. This is an all-time high. “The overall funding comprises the current budgets for contract research and defense research, as well as the expansion investments,” explains Dr. Alfred Gossner, Senior Vice President for Finances. The current budget in contract research, which comprises the fundamental research and development services, has increased by 11 percent to 1.29 billion euros. In the defense research performance area, the current budget of 38 million euros was slightly below the previous year's level. Expansion investments, funded at 72 million euros, declined compared to the level in the previous year. Commercial income rose sharply The contract research performance area consists of project income and basic financing from the German federal and Länder governments. Projects in trade and industry and government agencies produced income totaling 859 million euros. This means that the income rate, or third party funding, was 68.6 percent. “In spite of the negative economic development, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft was able to earn 369 million euros through direct contracts with trade and industry,” Gossner reports with pleasure. This corresponds to growth of 13 percent. Fraunhofer furthermore earned 83 million euros from license proceeds, yielding a total of 452 million euros in commercial income. Public projects with the German federal and Länder governments produced earnings of 284 million euros, or 20 percent of the total funding. The basic financing amounted to 432 million euros. The international operations were also successful. Fraunhofer realized earnings of 147 million euros from foreign contract research projects in the 2008 fiscal year. “The organization exceeded the previous year's high level by an additional 18 percent,” Gossner reports. “We were able to attain gratifying growth rates on all relevant markets. In Asia, the growth in returns was even 45 percent.” Foreign income accounted for 17 percent of the total project income. “This sustained positive development is the result of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's successful internationalization strategy,” Gossner emphasizes. Fraunhofer is one of Germany's most important patent applicants. Staff members reported 680 new inventions in the 2008 fiscal year alone. Patent applications for 500 of these inventions – more than ever before – were filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office. The level of active industrial rights families increased to more than 5,000. In spite of the global financial and economic crisis, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is projecting further growth and positive trends in the earnings situation for the years 2009 and 2010. The reason: Numerous firms are investing in research and development, even during the crisis. “The contents of our contracts have changed greatly, however. Customers are no longer interested in developments that have a technology roadmap through to 2030. Our developments are expected to show tangible results by this year, or by next year at the latest,” Bullinger says. “The increased number of research projects means we also need more people to implement them,” Prof. Bullinger stresses. Therefore, just last year, 1,400 new jobs were created and filled. As a result, the number of employees had grown to more than 15,000 by the end of 2008. “In order to deal with the increased research volume, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will also need to hire additional staff this year. We want to add 600 new positions,” says Bullinger. Fraunhofer is a popular employer Particularly gratifying: German students rank Fraunhofer as one of the most popular employers. This favorable assessment reflects survey results published by the weekly newspaper Wirtschaftswoche in May of this year. According to the survey of university students, Fraunhofer placed second after the car manufacturer Porsche. Audi, BMW and Google ranked below Fraunhofer. Fraunhofer is also valued as an employer by the year's top 25 percent. Among natural scientists, Fraunhofer is the second most popular employer, while computer scientists rank Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft fourth and engineers rank it seventh. In intense discourse, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft identified twelve “Fraunhofer topics for the future” last year. These are future-oriented subject areas of great economic relevance. “In the analysis, however, we also uncovered topics that are seminal from both scientific and economic viewpoints, but whose growth potential cannot be fully exploited given the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's current capacities,” Bullinger explains. Thus the resulting impetus was placed on start-up efforts and integration in the healthcare research and energy supply. This year, the Bremen MeVis Research center was integrated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. This represents an expansion of Fraunhofer's know-how in the field of medical visualization and diagnostic systems. The establishment of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology IWES in Bremerhaven is part of additional, systematic portfolio expansion. The new institute arose from the merger of the Fraunhofer Center for Wind Energy and Maritime Technologies CWMT in Bremerhaven with the Institut für Solare Energieversorgung ISET in Kassel, specialists in supplying power from renewable resources. The institutes of the Forschungsgesellschaft für Angewandte Naturwissenschaften e. V. (FGAN) are also to be integrated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft this year. These efforts will enrich the expertise in defense-related research, as well as in civilian security research. “The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will use its personnel and technological capacities for goal-oriented reinforcement of its growth fields, in order to strengthen the innovating capability of Germany as a technology center. This is quintessential in times of crisis,” Bullinger emphasizes.

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