Collaborative work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is an important matter for the Fraunhofer IWM. We know the financial, organizational and technical limits within which SMEs operate. Our offers – and our collaboration – are designed specifically for their needs
Cooperation with businesses, the majority of which are SMEs, is the daily bread of Fraunhofer employees. They identify their role as ensuring that the desired application is achieved. Working with many different clients also ensures that the staff at Fraunhofer has a good understanding of the way companies act and think. Many Fraunhofer employees have indeed worked in the industry themselves. This intensive cooperation with industry results in the research conducted at Fraunhofer being constantly adapted to the increasing demands of the company. The high level of customer satisfaction – confirmed in surveys – demonstrates that Fraunhofer IWM enjoys an outstanding reputation as a partner to businesses.
Fraunhofer IWM is the partner of choice for SMEs when their own R&D resources or expertise are not available or where a new source of innovation needs to be found. It is often also the change in technical perspective that leads to interesting solutions and often to interesting insights. And last but not least, a small project that is conducted to test a collaboration often becomes the starting point for many years of a productive partnership.
Differences in the level of understanding of the problem in companies on the one hand, and in the level of problem-solving competence at Fraunhofer IWM on the other, are both an opportunity and a challenge. Here is where the appeal of all research and development projects is to be found: by isolating the problem and jointly investigating the best approach through constructive communication in order to reach a desirable and economically feasible solution.
The basis for trusting cooperation is creating a balanced agreement on the level of expectations. The timeframe or budget of a company, which is often evaluated optimistically, and the high level of scientific and engineering precision and depth required for elaborating on project outcomes are carefully assessed in a consultancy meeting with the objective of achieving the best customer benefits and an efficient course of action within a given project.
Research and development would not be true to its name if it were not prone to risk. Detecting any risk, defining it, working with you to deal with it and limiting it is part of the core activity of Fraunhofer IWM’s project managers. This also includes precisely specifying the R&D outcome sought and defining clear milestones on the way towards it, at which modifications and corrections to the course of action can be mutually agreed where necessary.
It is our aim to develop project outcomes that can unfold to reach the best possible outcomes in the technological processes or innovation plans of our clients. An important prerequisite here is a solid information basis, which includes information on the manufacture, processing and applications in the company of the materials and components being examined. That this can include confidential information goes without saying. Our project team always handles information belonging to the client confidentially. The question of the need for an extra-contractual regulation on handling sensitive data and information is a fixed component of the project initiation.
Where R&D propositions are technically attractive but financially difficult to effect, Fraunhofer IWM supports its clients by sounding out various options for project funding and exploiting them. Fraunhofer IWM has extensive experience in applying for funding from grant providers of all kinds, including regional and federal ministries, associations, foundations and the EU. Many grant givers offer funding measures that are adapted to the needs of SMEs. Fraunhofer IWM can provide the relevant information on this.