»Fraunhofer is the best proof that it is still possible to forge plans for the future at the age of 70«: This is how Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel began her speech at the anniversary celebration. She spoke of the innovation world champion in Germany, who makes all our lives a bit easier, simpler and more worth living. Inventions such as the white LED and the MP3 audio format come from Fraunhofer. Germany is lagging somewhat behind on the road to digitalization, for example when it comes to the acceptance of artificial intelligence and robots in society. Merkel praised the work of the Fraunhofer Institutes here in particular: »Fraunhofer's optimism is a boon«.
Germany must learn from mistakes and soon conduct ethical discussions, minimize risks and seize opportunities - Fraunhofer sets a good example here. Germany is a country of ideas and especially the implementation of ideas. Applied research needs to be strengthened, especially with regard to industry 4.0. Merkel cited the investment of several million euros in a research factory for battery cells as an example. Finally, Merkel thanked all employees for their commitment to research and President Prof. Neugebauer for his valuable impulses in various committees.
President praises research work
In his opening speech, Professor Raimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, praised his 26,600 employees in 72 institutions: »Fraunhofer researchers not only ask the right questions, they also find sustainable and value-adding answers«. In particular, he thanked the German Chancellor for providing the research funds without which such research work would not be possible. The Fraunhofer Institutes are making a major contribution to digitalization and data security in Europe. »Every second bit of global data traffic is based on technologies from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft«.
Munich's Mayor, Dieter Reiter, was delighted with the choice of location for the new headquarters in Hansastraße. Fraunhofer thus strengthens Munich's international position as a location for science, research and innovation. The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft was founded 70 years ago in Munich and has continued to develop in the Bavarian capital.
Presentation of the technology prize
A highlight of the evening, which TV presenter Kristina zur Mühlen was moderating, was the presentation of the 2019 Research Awards, each endowed with 50,000 euros. The »Technology for People« award goes to a research achievement that contributes to improving people's quality of life. This year's award winners are Dr. Bernard Durschang and Dr. Jörn Probst from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC for the project »New teeth: high-strength - and immediately usable«. They have developed a dental prosthesis made of glass ceramic that is already being used by many dentists.
The winners of the Fraunhofer Prizes
In addition, four Joseph von Fraunhofer prizes were awarded. Since 1978, the prize has been awarded to employees for outstanding scientific achievements with system relevance that contribute to securing the future of Germany as a business location. The winners are:
- Ingo Feldmann, Dr. Oliver Schreer and Peter Kauff from the Fraunhofer Institute for telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI with the research project »Film as a new experience - real people in virtual worlds«. With the new technology, people can be integrated into a VR environment that appear real and move fluidly and naturally. The researchers have set up a studio on the film site in Babelsberg for this purpose.
- PD Dr. Michael Bortz and Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Küfer and his team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM for the project: »Less is more: Resource efficiency in the chemical industry«. The production of chemicals consumes about 20 percent of Europe's commercial energy requirements. Energy savings in the double-digit percentage range can now be achieved with a model-based toolbox. BASF and Lonza are already using the technology.
- Prof. Dr. Alexander Reiterer, Dominik Störk and Dr. Katharina Wäschle from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Freiburg for research: »The challenge of fiber optic expansion: Fast Internet, planned in a few days«. The route planning for the fiber optic expansion requires a 3D representation of the environment. So far, this has been very time-consuming. Using a process chain based on AI, the data is evaluated and integrated into digital planning maps. Deutsche Telekom can now plan routes up to 70 times faster.
- Thomas von der Grün, Norbert Franke from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS and Thomas Pellkofer from the company jogmo world with the 20-person team for real-time game analysis in professional sports: »Making every ice hockey move measurable: New technology for training and real-time analysis«. Up to now, match analyses in professional sports could only be carried out after the move. With a localization technology based on a time measurement of radio signals, game analyses can now be carried out in real time. The position of the puck is measured 2000 times per second. Already in the next NHL season the technology will be used in all 32 stadiums of the NHL.