FAQ regarding cooperation

Fraunhofer clients are highly satisfied. Highly motivated and well-trained employees contribute towards this, as does Fraunhofer’s many years of experience in cooperating with large and small businesses. The successful type of cooperation can be seen by the very large number of re-engagements: Anyone who has engaged Fraunhofer once is pleased to do so again. And recommends Fraunhofer to others. Anyone thinking about working with Fraunhofer for the first time has a lot of questions. We want to briefly answer the most important ones here.

  • Yes, because innovations are just as much the basis of the success of our economy as it is for each individual company. Innovations are particularly important in industries in which product life cycles are becoming increasingly short due to global competition and rapid technological development. But ideas alone are not enough, you need the experience of professionals if ideas are to become innovations and finally market successes.

  • Research on behalf of clients is the primary field of business of the Fraunhofer Institutes. The know-how of the employees is focussed accordingly: They know the basic conditions in the companies – often because they themselves have already worked in industry – and know what is important.

    Intensive cooperation with industry leads to continuous adjustment of Fraunhofer research to the increasing requirements of the companies. Important cornerstones: guaranteed confidentiality, continuity in the key positions, first class equipment and facilities and reliable project management. An efficient cooperation ensures that the client receives the agreed solution punctually and it can also be used in practice. Handling rights of use is agreed professionally. The Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems, IMWS is certified to EN ISO 9001; the developments are therefore more easily reproducible and clients can in turn trust in a suitable process organization in the institutes for sustained implementation of the client’s requirements.

    Other research providers, who are mainly publicly funded, may appear to be more cost-effective at first glance. The high level of professionalism of the cooperation and traditional close ties with industry – including under economic aspects – ultimately speak in favour of Fraunhofer. The high level of customer satisfaction – confirmed by surveys – shows that the Fraunhofer IMWS enjoys an excellent reputation as a partner for businesses.

  • Most clients have a very specific idea of what task they want to be solved and by when. A company often contacts Fraunhofer itself, or contacts result as a result of discussions during Fraunhofer seminars, events and trade fairs. The first free consultation is then held with no commitment. Here the partners can sound out what objectives are to be achieved by the cooperation and what the time and financial framework could look like. This is followed by contract negotiations, the signing of the contracts and the start of the research and development work.

    If the suitable institute is not obvious straight away, the client can use a Fraunhofer group or a Fraunhofer alliance: There they are advised and supplied with contact information. Or the potential client phones the central hotline for business clients. The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO provides companies with a free tool on the internet with which they can assess their own innovation capability for the development of product-related services: www.innoscore-service.de

  • The cooperation with the Fraunhofer IMWS can be arranged as you wish. Our institute addresses itself to the specific needs of the client. A successful cooperation frequently begins with an entry project. Anyone who has a small project to be completed is provided with research and development services by the Fraunhofer employees just as professionally as the client of a large project.

  • The initial consulting phase is free of charge. Only when the scope of the cooperation has been defined and the appropriate agreements have been made does the Fraunhofer IMWS issue an invoice for its research and development work (R&D).

  • After-sales services are an important factor of customer satisfaction. After the innovation has been introduced the client can receive information from the Fraunhofer institute that is focussed on their requirements, for example, in the form of employee training and further training. Special Fraunhofer spin-offs can also secure technological support for companies in the case of large projects.

  • The client of cooperation with Fraunhofer IMWS receives ownership of products, prototypes and other material objects, which were developed on their behalf. In addition, they are given the necessary rights of use to the inventions, intellectual property rights and resulting know-how created by Fraunhofer. These rights / licences are available to the client non-exclusively or exclusively for the intended application on which their order was based. Through the exclusive application-based entitlement to use the client benefits from optimum protection from competition. Outside of the »client’s area« the Fraunhofer is given the opportunity to develop further and use elsewhere its own know-how, inventions and intellectual property rights. In this way, each client also benefits from the extensive technological background contributed to the cooperation by Fraunhofer.

  • The data and knowledge of the company engaging us is always treated strictly confidentially. Fraunhofer basically works according to the need-to-know principle: Only the Fraunhofer employees who need the client’s confidential information to carry out the specific project are given it. If necessary, separate premises/rooms or separate laboratories are set up to safeguard confidentiality. In some cases, competitors in an industry conscientiously cooperate with Fraunhofer, as here an independent, pre-competition environment is created, in which synergies can be used.

  • Fraunhofer only uses the name of the client for its own PR work if the client explicitly agrees to it. Otherwise, if necessary, the project is only reported in a way that the client cannot be identified.

  • Yes. The technical equipment always corresponds to state-of-the-art standards. The close cooperation between Fraunhofer institutes and universities also enables them to access the latest developments in the respective field. International activity informs about the state-of-the-art of the respective technology. In many areas, Fraunhofer is itself the leader of technological development. Since 1992, the Fraunhofer IMWS has invested more than euro 35 million in equipment for obtaining insights into and clarifying microstructure. The institute of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft thus has the most extensive equipment for microstructure elucidation.

  • Cooperation with companies is all part and parcel of our employees’ daily work. From draw their professional self-understanding from the fact that the objective of their work is always the application. Dealing with many different clients also ensures that Fraunhofer employees always have comprehensive experience of how companies think and work and acquire an insight into different corporate cultures. Many Fraunhofer employees have already worked in industry themselves. Fraunhofer research is best compared to an outsourced research department of a company. Here too, the work is aimed at use of the results. And accordingly, the self-understanding at the Fraunhofer IMWS reflects this: We work for industry; we enable our clients to turn knowledge into money.

  • To a certain extent Fraunhofer can use money – through the Fraunhofer Future Foundation – for future-relevant projects. However, for clients it is important that many of the joint projects in which the Fraunhofer is significantly involved are supported financially by the state or the EU. Specific opportunities for cooperation in such projects can be sounded out during a consultation.

  • The principle of confidentially applies to us in our international work in the same way as it does in our work nationally. We ensure that the advantage of international research activity always remains safeguarded for our clients and for our sponsors. Work in international teams and dealing with global market requirements in projects abroad is first-class experience for researchers, and all future clients in Germany also benefit from this.