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Technology Assessment

Technological progress – for instance in transport, medicine, energy or information technologies – is usually associated with ambivalent consequences for the economy and society. The miniaturization of sensors, for example, and their interconnection via computer networks permits many new applications and business models, but could also represent an undesirable surveillance infrastructure – with numerous implications for data protection and privacy.

Given this backdrop, there is a growing need for orientation based on knowledge about the opportunities and risks, intended and unintended impacts, as well as societal needs and the acceptability of future technological developments.

Technology Assessment (TA) helps to identify problems in good time and answer questions related to technology and mechanization. In order to support socially desirable socio-technical developments, orientation knowledge is generated for processes of public opinion formation and for political decision processes. This knowledge is created by analyzing technology impacts and societal needs and the compatibility of these needs and technical solutions as early as possible using a multi-perspective and interdisciplinary approach.

Our range of methods

It is characteristic for the Technology Assessment practiced at Fraunhofer ISI that a holistic, systemic perspective is taken that includes all the sub-sectors of society affected.  

The Institute advocates a broad understanding of Technology Assessment and uses a correspondingly extensive array of methods in its TA studies that range from economic impact assessments, potential analyses and agent-based modeling through quantitative and qualitative social scientific technology analyses up to scenario development, roadmapping and foresight.

The participatory involvement of target groups, citizens and laypersons is being assigned growing methodological importance in our TA studies to supplement our expertise in science and technology and expand the basis for assessment.


Our TA activities in German-speaking countries and internationally

Fraunhofer ISI is an active part of the German-speaking and international TA scene and participates in the relevant scientific TA conferences and networks. 

The Institute is an active institutional member in the NetzwerkTA (NTA) and also supports the Fachportal OpenTA in this context. Fraunhofer ISI is also an active member of the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG), which conducts research projects for the European Parliament (Science and Technology Options Assessment − STOA). The institute is also involved in a wide range of international networks, for instance through its membership in the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation (VIRI) and in the network globalTA.

Fraunhofer ISI regularly compiles expert reports for the Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag (Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag) (TAB). Furthermore, the Institute was TAB’s institutional cooperating partner between 2003 and 2013.

Staff members represent the Institute in numerous TA-relevant journals in editorial boards and scientific advisory boards, including:

Corresponding to our broad understanding of TA, all the Competence Centers at Fraunhofer ISI are involved in TA in a wide range of projects, each of which examines different issues. Some of the Institute’s most important work and research priorities in TA include classical TA studies in selected fields of technology, parliamentary TA, the further development of TA methods, ELSA research, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), innovation and technology analyses (ITA) and foresight. All these key issues aim to provide relevant knowledge for the design and governance of emerging technologies.

Projects and Publications


  • Digital tools for e-democracy (STOA EDEM II)
  • Big Data in the Cloud
  • Innovation report “White Biotechnology“ - Present status and future perspectives of industrial biotechnology for a sustainable economyMaking Perfect Life
  • Fortpflanzungsmedizin – wissenschaftlich-technische Entwicklungen, Folgen und Rahmenbedingungen
  • E-public, e-participation, e-voting in Europe: Chances and limits of an Internet-enabled European democracy
  • Electronic Petitioning and Modernisation of Petitioning Systems in Europe
  • Technical progress in health care
  • Future Report: Individualised Medicine and the Health Care System