Identifying new technology and its impact on markets and industries at an early stage, as well as shaping innovation, are major success factors for business and society alike. Under the motto “Understanding change, shaping the future”, Fraunhofer experts at the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research identify, analyze and design innovation systems, as well as investigate how best to support the people they involve. On July 1, 2023, Prof. Dr. Jakob Edler, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe, took over the chairmanship of this group.
As part of the network, six institutes — Fraunhofer IAO, Fraunhofer IMW, Fraunhofer INT, Fraunhofer IRB, Fraunhofer ISI and, as a guest member, the Fraunhofer IIS working group for supply chain services — pool their expertise in socio-economic and socio-technical research. The Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research is the primary point of contact for decision-makers seeking direction, foresight and strategic planning for the future. Leveraging its expertise in developing innovation systems, in foresight and system optimization as well as in knowledge transfer and technology impact assessment, the group delivers a wide range of services to its partners, supporting them with decision-making tools for processes and organizational structures as well as tools and techniques for use by companies, organizations and politicians.
The directors of the respective member institutes form the steering committee for the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research, which elects its chair every three years. Prof. Wilhelm Bauer, who sits on the management board at Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organization IAO in Stuttgart, has held this position since it was first set up in 2017. He takes a look back as his term in office comes to an end: “The last six years as chairman have been an extremely exciting and also challenging time, and I am proud of how the group has grown — something which would not have been possible without the excellent support of our colleagues in the institutes and at Fraunhofer headquarters. I am confident that Prof. Edler will lead the association into its next phase with expertise and foresight, and I wish him all the very best.” As his successor, Prof. Dr. Jakob Edler will also sit on the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Presidential Council.
“In recent years, the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research has demonstrated how Fraunhofer plays a leading role in German innovation,” says Jakob Edler. “We owe particular thanks to Wilhelm Bauer for this, who set up the group as its original chairman and set a clear objective for pooling the expertise of the member institutes. On behalf of everyone on the steering committee and everyone working at the institutes involved, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for his many years of service. I trust I can continue his efforts so far — and which are still ongoing — in a similar vein in the field of excellent innovation research.”
Besides numerous publications and joint projects, it was the Covid-19 pandemic no less which saw to it that the expertise of the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research became familiar to a wider audience: The joint research project “Crisis Management and Resilience — Covid” (in German, KResCo for short), saw the group make a major contribution to the public debate on how politicians were dealing with the pandemic. German political decisions and the developments which resulted from these were compared against those from other countries and recommendations devised for similar future scenarios — for better crisis management and greater social resilience.
Prof. Jakob Edler has been executive director of Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI since October 2018. He is also Professor of Innovation Policy and Strategy at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR), which he headed from 2011 to September 2018. Before moving to MIoIR in 2007, he worked in the Innovation Systems and Politics department at Fraunhofer ISI, most recently as head of department. His research focuses on the analysis and planning of governance and politics in the fields of science and innovation. Prof. Edler sits on numerous political and scientific committees, including the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). In February 2023 he was appointed to the German Science and Humanities Council by the President of Germany.