Socio-technical and socio-economic research

Innovations for societal challenges

The Fraunhofer ISI helps its clients to find systemic solutions in the sense of integrated analyses of technology developments and society’s needs. By considering socio-technical and socio-economic framework conditions, it ideally complements the more technically-oriented institutes of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Fraunhofer ISI has close ties to their technical expertise through its networking in various groups and alliances.

Through this close cooperation and interaction, users from industry and policymaking have access to unique innovation and technology development services that also take into account how these are embedded in society, the economy and politics. Fraunhofer ISI offers political and industrial actors strategic consultation on the topic of innovation and supports the development and application of innovative technical and non-technical solutions to ensure the future viability of the economy and society.

Fraunhofer ISI also makes a major contribution to developing solutions that help to tackle the overarching societal, ecological and economic challenges (the Grand Challenges). Alongside technological competence, it is becoming increasingly important to embed innovations in their systemic environment and tailor them to the core needs of their possible users as “frugal innovations“ based on open innovation processes. Fraunhofer ISI is actively accompanying this paradigm shift to need-oriented innovations.

In this way, Fraunhofer ISI helps to strengthen the innovativeness and sustainability of the economy and society in Germany. The institute has many years of experience and is characterized by its systemic perspective, the necessary scientific roots and the ability to support the transfer of results into applications.

The Fraunhofer ISI is acutely aware of socio-technical and socio-economic problems and challenges. Our applied research aims to help society develop in a way that is economically successful, socially fair and environmentally compatible.

We work on managing the grand challenges by developing innovations. Our empirically based understanding of the innovation system and our multi-dimensional evaluation methods enable us to make integrated analyses of complex facts based on economic, societal and ecological criteria.

In practical terms, this means that the success of technical innovations is increasingly dependent on how these are embedded in non-technical innovations. These include innovations at the level of operating processes, new business models, organizations, regulations or institutions. For innovations to diffuse through a wide range of applications presupposes their acceptance by users and society, which is why this aspect has to be taken into account during their development. This requires the integration of societal stakeholders at an early stage.

Successful solutions at the level of complex socio-technical systems depend on the degree of success in dovetailing technical, economic, societal and ecological aspects.

The Fraunhofer ISI is a scientific research institute with an interdisciplinary structure and a transdisciplinary working approach. It develops holistic solutions that go beyond satisfying particular interests. Examples include the High Tech strategy of the German government and the sustainable transformation of large socio-technical systems such as mobility, energy or water infrastructures, the further development of the health care systems and the transition to Industry 4.0.

A wide range of projects and publications

The Fraunhofer ISI offers its clients a wide range of socio-technical and socio-economic research on the preparation, support and diffusion of technical and non-technical innovations. Main areas of research include: