A year has passed since the Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH Innovation Centre for “Digital Industry Transformation” was opened in Wattens. The Tyrolean branch of the well-known research organisation can look back on a focused and successful year in the region.

Representatives from industry, research and politics gathered together in Tyrol one year after the Fraunhofer Innovation Centre for “Digital Industry Transformation” first opened its doors. More than 120 guests accepted the invitation to attend the 1st-year anniversary celebration here in the » Schleifhalle (grinding hall)« of the Werkstätte Wattens. Fraunhofer Austria CEO Wilfried Sihn opened the evening’s proceedings with the words “We have officially arrived in Tyrol.”

Innovative solutions for Tyrol’s economy

The digital transformation is more than just the clever use of modern IT technologies. In extreme cases, the process has the potential to change factors such as the market’s appearance, a company’s own products, the processes of production, and even logistics and the business strategy – in short »just about everything«. Therefore, the right competencies are needed to take full advantage of the opportunities for growth. »We see ourselves as facilitators of know-how from the sciences« explained Sihn in this regard. Especially data science technologies will be key for companies when it comes to Industry 4.0, a topic to which Fraunhofer Austria has fully dedicated itself. Along with industry partners and institutes of higher education, (research) focuses such as industrial data engineering & transformation, smart data analytics or big data applications for Industry 4.0 were narrowed down during the first year of development. According to the CEO of Fraunhofer Austria in remarks given at the end of his welcome speech, the past year was a complete success. Highlights included the first publicly sponsored research proposals and the finalisation of the first project in the area of industrial contract research.
In order to advance in-house research topics, the institute will be in search of long-term research partners as well as new employees. »By 2019, we want to expand our research portfolio and bolster our team by approx. 10 people«, emphasised Michael Stockinger, project coordinator at the Fraunhofer Innovation Centre in Wattens.

First research project to begin in October

The Fraunhofer Innovation Centre in Watten’s first public research project, »ASPeCT – Adaptive Smoothed Production« is already in the starting blocks. As part of the FFG programme »The Future of Production«, collaboration in the coming three years will begin with renowned partners such as Handl Tyrol to develop new methods for consistent project planning based on simulation-proven optimisation of all production resources. The goals are to more efficiently execute production planning with everything from machines to weather data, and to acheive higher quality. »In year one, we managed to succeed in getting our first research project, ASPeCT on track« said Stockinger.

Presenting best practices

Fraunhofer Austria has already collaborated with leading businesses in Tyrol for many years, including the Swarovski Group, Handl Tyrol and hollu system hygiene. This ensures that new scientific insights and innovations from all aspects of Industry 4.0 will be implemented to increase the competitiveness of the region. During the 1st-year anniversary celebrations and using an outline of Swarovski’s digital ecosystem, Marcus-Langes Swarovski provided a concrete example of the benefits of being an early adopter of digitalisation potential for an individual company. »The collaboration with Fraunhofer has opened up entirely new opportunities for Wattens and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tyrol. We therefore want to increase innovation and collaborate intensively with other companies and existing institutions and we look forward to many joint projects in the future« said Langes-Swarovski.

»It’s amazing to observe how the Fraunhofer Innovation Centre has continued to develop since settling at Werkstätte Wattens, the international centre for founders and business. In a short space of time, the team at Fraunhofer have managed to become an integral part of our local community and of our regional ecosystem. As an interface between research and business, Fraunhofer continues to play a key role in educating Tyrolean businesses about the true potential of digitalisation. Fraunhofer are also there to help develop and execute these suggested digital strategies. This is an important contribution to the successful future of such businesses. It is therefore my pleasure to offer congratulations on their 1st anniversary and I look forward to even closer collaboration and partnership in the coming years.« Matthias Neeff, CEO Destination Wattens

Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH