Using the crisis as an opportunity – Fraunhofer INT 2030+ flood relief project

A project as an introduction to shaping the future of Fraunhofer INT

The flood event of July 14/15, 2021, forced Fraunhofer INT to take stock of both the current situation and the future development of the institute under completely new conditions. For the continued existence of the institute, a strategic development under the changed framework conditions is essential. The necessary measures offer the task and opportunity to rethink parts of the institute‘s long-term strategy.

In the course of 2022, this situation gave rise to a plan for the perspective development of Fraunhofer INT up to the year 2030 and beyond. The anchor point is the vision already formulated in the 2018 strategy process: to become a trusted partner in research and knowledge transfer, not only for defense-related matters under the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg), but also for civilian initiatives under the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). With the new conditions created by the flood, we can and must now continue to pursue this vision. Accordingly, we have planned a lot:

By cleverly combining the two unique selling propositions (USP) – experimental equipment and the ability for long-term technology analysis and foresight – the institute will expand its portfolio in the business areas of the two existing research fields as well as establish a new research field "Space". Particular attention will be paid to designing product developments specifically for existing and new customers from industry and economy in order to further establish the institute‘s civilian funding component consistently in the Fraunhofer model. The new research field "Space" forms a logical link between the two existing research areas in terms of content and economics.

The potential for new revenue and business models is extremely high in this topic, in which Fraunhofer INT has already been very active for about eight years, coordinating activities and networking with industrial customers on behalf of many Fraunhofer institutes as part of the Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE Alliance. The commercial space market will experience massive growth in the coming years, as civil, near-earth space flight (earth observation, etc.) is of immense importance in meeting global challenges such as the climate crisis.

In this ambitious program, the institute is supported by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in many ways. From direct and immediate support in coping with the many challenges immediately after the flood, to ongoing assistance (backup computer center at Fraunhofer FKIE), to the possibility of launching a project financed by the Executive Board Fund to jump-start the development described above. This project, "INT2030+", thus builds a bridge from the now to the future of Fraunhofer INT.

INT 2030+ – a future program for Fraunhofer INT

Under the premise of "continuing what is successful and seizing additional opportunities", the INT2030+ project bundles five initiatives that will move Fraunhofer INT forward:

1. The combination of activities from the Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE and the competencies from the two departments of the institute in a new research field “Space”.

  • Fraunhofer INT becomes a place where the German and European space community meets.

2. The expansion of competencies and capacities in the field of Data Driven Foresight.

  • Fraunhofer INT becomes an innovation driver at the interface between data sciences, artificial intelligence and (technology-oriented) foresight.

3. Strengthen existing competencies in the field of reliability of electronics against ionizing and electromagnetic radiation through consistent development of laboratory environments.

  • Serve application fields with high societal impact, such as radiation or interference sensitivity of quantum computers, artificial intelligence, future mobile technologies (6G+) and smart production systems.

4. The establishment of a TASP (Technology Analysis and Strategic Planning) incubator with the following two subgoals:

  • a. STRONGER: The flood disaster in the summer of 2021 demonstrated that the transfer of research results to application in the field of disaster management does not function satisfactorily. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft can and must play an important role here. Building on what we have been doing successfully for many years, we want to offer a platform where users can meet with experts from authorities and organizations with security tasks (BOS), industry and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft for improved long-term capability planning. 
  • b. As a future institute that is also located in the structural change region of the “Rheinische Revier” with its specific challenges, we continuously develop tools and methods in the "Competence Center Strategic Foresight" (CC-SF) with its affiliated Foresight Cube (a specially designed physical space that enables direct immersion in the foresight process). This includes, in particular, the development of specific formats to support strategic decision-making by small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in structural change.

With a duration of three years and a financial endowment of three million euros, the project is substantial enough to make a real difference in the strategic development of the institute.

A brief portrait of the individual initiatives

New Space Economy

In recent years, the space industry has experienced a disruptive change. More and more private companies are successfully implementing space projects with commercial business models. The term "new space" is used to summarize this commercial use of space by private providers. In order for Fraunhofer INT‘s space division to develop into a national hub for space activities in the future and to become the preferred contact for primes as well as SMEs, Fraunhofer INT must promptly develop a deep understanding of the new space industry. To this end, it is important to establish a cross-sector network of institutional space, new space, industry and applied research at an early stage. With the location of the space office of the Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE at the institute, we are predestined for this task.


The TASP Incubator (TASPI) sub-project continues to develop two innovations that were already started in preliminary research and are at different stages of development until they are ready for commercialization. The consistent development of tools and methods in the Competence Center – Strategic Foresight (CC-SF) and their focused use in the Foresight Cube is aimed in particular at better adapting the cost structure of foresight projects to the needs of SMEs in order to make foresight affordable for SMEs. The resulting SME-specific strategic foresight is to be developed into a USP for Fraunhofer INT.

The work for the "Strategic Planning Center – Disaster Management and Resilience" (STRONGER) specifically expands the interlocking and the visibility, operationalization and utilization of existing competencies in the business unit “Public Technology and Innovation Planning” (TIP). In particular, the needs of the application side are to be placed at the center of innovation processes and the openness for innovative solutions and their implementation in the field of disaster management is to be sustainably improved. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft offers a wide range of solution approaches in the field of crisis resilience, and the relevant specialists can be integrated into corresponding research and development (R&D) activities at an early stage by means of STRONGER.

Data Driven Foresight (DDF)

The DDF sub-project aims to support and accompany a foresight process using datadriven methods. In this context, the KATIsystem (Knowledge Analytics for Technology & Innovation), an assistance system for technology foresight, has been developed at Fraunhofer INT in recent years. Currently, data-driven approaches are used to provide selective support for specific issues. With DDF, a procedure is to be developed with which a strategic foresight process is supported over the entire length of the process. In addition to the development of new databased foresight methods, this will also expand Fraunhofer INT‘s product portfolio and sustainably strengthen its market position in the field of foresight and innovation management.

NE Goes Digital

Mobile working within the company, desk sharing or even working from home have become established in many fields at the latest since the start of the Corona pandemic. The resulting advantages are increasingly being noticed by companies and transferred to other fields, such as digital manufacturing in Industry 4.0. In the future, these concepts will also be transferred to the laboratory environments at Fraunhofer INT. The digitization of laboratory facilities, for example through the automation of measurement routines and measuring instruments or interdisciplinary linking of facilities, is a useful tool that can also support the processing of extensive and complex studies.