Creativity and dedication – with employees at the core
People who have reached the age of 70 might well be showing some signs that their best years are behind them – but that’s certainly not the case for Fraunhofer IGB. Far from being in decline, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB could even be described as a brand whose values are INNOVATIVE, GLOBAL and BIO-FOCUSED.
Throughout all the years that I have experienced the work of Fraunhofer IGB, first on the advisory board, then as institute director (1994–2007), and finally as a guest member of the advisory board, the creativity and dedication of the institute’s members have been exemplary. Fraunhofer IGB has foreshadowed Kondratiev waves and enthusiastically implemented them – not just from an idealistic standpoint, but also with new concepts and technologies – all the way to market. Any technological or financial setbacks have always been viewed as an incentive and rectified, even in the face of external resistance.
Within the framework of the pioneering Central Focus Project for Bioprocess Engineering, activities in cell and molecular biotechnology were carried out together with several institutes in the Faculties of Chemistry, Biology and Process Engineering at the University of Stuttgart over a period of eight years. This was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the state of Baden-Württemberg, under my chairmanship from 1994 onwards, and the cooperation among the university institutes themselves and with Fraunhofer IGB was a key factor underpinning the funding. This approach was the secret to the success of the interdisciplinary dialogue that took place, and the joint research and development work that involved companies far beyond Baden-Württemberg.
In addition, an initiative between Fraunhofer IGB and the Stuttgart-Neckar-Alb regional association succeeded in winning the BioRegio contest, which was open to the whole of Germany. As a result, the Neckar-Alb BioRegion was created with the foundation of the BioRegio STERN coordination office. This was the culmination of a vision that made it possible to attract the University of Tübingen as a partner, bringing with it the potential that it offered for medical research.
For Fraunhofer IGB, this resulted in a time of prosperity both for research and in economic terms. Highly qualified gatekeepers were recruited for Fraunhofer IGB (through the formation of two junior research groups) and then became the basis for an integral part of goal-setting and further development. The appointment to the German-Israeli Research Council at the federal level also brought about new networking opportunities and on an international scale.
Today, we can see a clear path on which cell biology, genetic engineering and microbiology of pathogenic bacteria and fungi, together with virology, are being developed toward Fraunhofer IGB and the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Interfacial Process Engineering and Plasma Technology (IGVP) becoming a front-runner in molecular virology. The technologies in the actively promoted and economically significant areas of interfacial science, environmental technology and engineering technology – which have also benefited from synergies in many cases have become trendsetters. And Fraunhofer IGB, together with the Institute of Interfacial Process Engineering and Plasma Technology at the University of Stuttgart (with which it has been closely associated since 1994), is often viewed with an attempt to imitate its work.
Among all of this, there is one key factor that we must not lose sight of, and that is the employees working at every level. Their commitment to creatively accepting leadership changes, helping to shape them, tapping into new synergies and playing a part in setting new goals has always been and continues to be one of Fraunhofer IGB’s real strengths. This is also demonstrated in the close collaboration – through both personnel and technology – that has been established with the Institute of Interfacial Engineering and Plasma Technology IGVP. Simply put, exemplary things have been achieved.
So, here’s to IGB – long may it continue!