Lighthouse projects – Reducing Time to Market

Fraunhofer is tackling the current challenges facing industry head on. Its lighthouse projects put the focus on strategic objectives with a view to developing practical solutions from which economies such as Germany’s can benefit. The topics these projects address are geared towards economic requirements. By pooling their expertise and involving industrial partners at an early stage, the Fraunhofer Institutes involved in the projects aim to turn original scientific ideas into marketable products as quickly as possible. 

6G SENTINEL – The next generation of mobile communications

© Fraunhofer IIS

The 6G SENTINEL (Six-G Enablers: Flexible Networks, THz Technology and Integration, Non-Terrestrial Networks, SidElink and Localization) project prepares the ground for the sixth generation of mobile communications, which is expected to be launched in 2030. 

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COGNAC – Cognitive Agriculture

Fraunhofer-Leitprojekt »Cognitive Agriculture«
© iStock/Fraunhofer IESE

In the COGNAC lighthouse project, eight Fraunhofer Institutes under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern are conducting joint research on  basic principles for producing agricultural products that are as environmentally friendly and resource-saving as they are highly efficient. Solutions include sensor technology for data collection as well as digitalization and automation of agricultural processes. The idea is to make the analysis of highly complex interactions between biosphere and production usable in an ecosystem of networked data and services (“Agricultural Data Space”) and to have it provide decision support.

eHarsh – Sensor systems for extremely harsh environments

The aim of the eHarsh lighthouse project is to develop and provide a technology platform on the basis of which sensor systems, comprising sensors and electronics, can be developed and manufactured for use in extremely harsh environments. The realization of such systems requires interdisciplinary skills, starting with the selection of suitable materials and technologies, a range of development expertise, system integration for the required application, and the evaluation and prediction of reliability and operational behaviour.

ElKaWe – Electrocaloric heat pumps

ElKaWe – Electrocaloric heat pumps

In the ElKaWe lighthouse project, six Fraunhofer Institutes under the leadership of the Fraunhofer IPM are working on the development of electrocaloric heat pumps for heating and cooling. Today, heat pumps work almost exclusively on the basis of compressor technology. Electrocaloric heat pumps promise a significantly higher efficiency and do not require harmful refrigerants. 

EVOLOPRO – Evolutionary self-adaptation of complex production processes and products

Leitprojekt EVOLOPRO
© Fraunhofer IPT

The aim of the EVOLOPRO lighthouse project is to employ evolutionary biological mechanisms to create a new generation of production systems. Such "biological manufacturing systems” are able to adapt to new demands and environmental conditions in a manner analogous to biological organisms. Unlike nature, however, biological manufacturing systems do not require many thousands of years to achieve this. Thanks to recent achievements in the context of Industrie 4.0, this can be accomplished within a very short period of time.

futureAM – Next Generation Additive Manufacturing

Mit Additive Manufacturing gefertigtes Metallbauteil
© Fraunhofer ILT

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has created futureAM to systematically and continuously develop the additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic components. For this purpose, six project partners – the Fraunhofer Research Institution IAPT and the Fraunhofer Institutes IFAM, IGD, ILT, IWS and IWU, all with a wealth of experience in the field of additive manufacturing, have entered into a strategic project partnership with two major goals: 1.: Establishing a comprehensive cooperation platform for the highly integrated cooperation and use of the decentrally distributed resources of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in the field of AM and 2.: creating the technological prerequisites to increase scalability, productivity and quality of AM processes in a way relevant to praxis for the production of tailor-made metal components.

Go Beyond 4.0 – Digital printing and laser processes

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project "Go Beyond 4.0"
© Fraunhofer

Digital printing and laser technologies are as yet only rarely used for the individualization of products in mass production. However, this combination of approaches would make it possible to create individualized series products in a resource-efficient and cost-saving manner, even down to manufacturing single unique items. Mastering this challenge is the objective of the Go Beyond 4.0 lighthouse project.

MaNiTU – Materials for sustainable tandem solar cells with extremely high conversion efficiency

Lighthouse project MaNiTu
© Grigor Ivanov / Andre Nery / shutterstock

In the MaNiTU lighthouse project, six Fraunhofer institutes are joining forces in developing sustainable, highly efficient and cost-effective tandem solar cells based on new absorber materials.

MED²ICIN – Digital patient model as a basis for personalised and cost-optimised treatment

Fraunhofer-Leitprojekt »Go Beyond 4.0«
© Fraunhofer IGD

Finding the right preventive approach, diagnosis and treatment at the click of a button: That is the vision of the MED²ICIN lighthouse project. The use of digital twins is common practice in many industries. The development of a digital patient model has the potential to revolutionise the healthcare industry, because the more targeted and effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment are, the better and more cost-effective the treatment will be.

ML4P – Machine Learning for Production

Machine Learning for Production

IIn the ML4P lighthouse project, six Fraunhofer Institutes under the coordination of the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe have teamed up to develop a tool-aided process model and to realize relevant interoperable software tools in order to systematically exploit the optimisation potential in production engineering plants through the use of machine learning methods.


QMag – Quantum Magnetometry

Leitprojekt »QMag« - Quantenmagnetometrie
© Fraunhofer IAF

On April 1 2019, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft launches the QMag lighthouse project. Freiburg’s Fraunhofer Institutes IAF, IPM and IWM want to transfer quantum magentometry from the field of university research to industrial applications. In close cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institutes IMM, IISB and the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics CAP, the research team develops highly integrated imaging quantum magnetometers with highest spatial resolution and sensitivity.

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QUILT – Quantum Methods for Advanced Imaging Solutions

The discovery of quantum mechanics is one of humankind’s most momentous achievements. It provides access to the world of molecules, atoms and subatomic building blocks, and also to the macroscopic world of stars and galaxies. The technological and societal development of our civilization is inconceivable without applications from quantum physics: Billions of electronic transistors permeate our lives at home and at work, in the form of computers, smartphones or the control systems of modern cars and inconspicuous kitchen appliances. Countless photons and optical fibers interlink our globe right into its farthest corners. Quantum physics lies at the heart of many modern technologies. The first generation of quantum technologies forms the basis of semiconductor and laser technology, for example.

SWAP – Hierarchical swarms as production architecture with optimized utilization

The alliance of nine Fraunhofer Institutes aims to discover/identify new technological concepts for shaping the future of production with their leading project "hierarchical swarms as production architecture with optimized utilization" ("SWAP"). The classical production process for goods right now involves the manufacturing and assembling (of the item/good/commodity) at individual processing stations in a defined process order.

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ZEPOWEL – Towards Zero Power Electronics

Massive MIMO Transmitter
© Fraunhofer IAF

In ZEPOWEL lighthouse project, the development of a extremely energy-efficient and modular hardware creates the basis for a comprehensive Internet of Things.

Finished lighthouse projects

Critical Rare Earths

The purpose of the rare earth metals project is to assure industry's access to these and other critical resources. Rare earth metals are needed for example to produce the powerful magnets employed in wind turbines and electric motors. In the course of the project, solutions will be developed for both the substitution and the recycling of the rare earth metals neodymium and dysprosium.

Theranostic Implants

The Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project »Theranostic Implants« aims to develop active implants that combine therapeutic and diagnostic functions in a single medical device. To this end, Fraunhofer researchers are developing the following three demonstrators: a smart hip-joint prostheses, a sensor implant for monitoring blood circulation and a myoelectric prosthetic hand controller.

Electricity as a Raw Material

Ten Fraunhofer Institutes led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have joined forces to work on the Fraunhofer lead project “electricity as a raw material”. Their aim is to develop and optimize processes that enable low-carbon power to be used to synthesize important base chemicals. 


What will the manufacturing industry of tomorrow look like? E³ stands for Efficiency, Emissions reduction, and Ergonomics. The E³ project aims to develop concepts and technologies that support integrated materials-flow and energy management. Equal importance is attached to developing instruments that evaluate energy efficiency and integrate ergonomic aspects into production.


As part of its electromobility systems research project, Fraunhofer developed various prototype components with a view to putting more electric vehicles on the road. 

Cell-Free Bioproduction

Producing proteins without cells in industry suited dimensions – that was the ambitious goal of the Fraunhofer project »Cell-Free Bioproduction«. Scientists and engineers out of eight different Fraunhofer-Institutes worked in this interdisciplinary research project and developed biotechnological processes that can synthesize proteins without using living cells.