Fraunhofer Institutes

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO

Where organisations and technology meet

The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (Fraunhofer IAO) carries out research and consulting projects in the areas of human factors and technology management. It is organised along five business areas:

  • Corporate development and working environments
  • Service management and human resource management
  • Engineering systems
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Technology and innovation management

Since its foundation in 1981, the Fraunhofer IAO has continuously grown in terms of number of employees and research volume. Together with the adjunct institute of Institute for Human Factors and Technology Management of the University of Stuttgart, it employs now more than 230 full-time employees that work on approx. 400 projects per year, resulting in a total budget of approx. 24 million Euros.

In contrast to the majority of other Fraunhofer Institutes, the IAO is less concerned with developing technologies, but rather enabling technology-based firms

  • to develop market-oriented strategies
  • to create smart organizations
  • to take robust technological choices
  • and to implement their strategies under consideration of all aspects related to technologies and human factors

Due to the multi-disciplinary background of the IAO workforce and its project teams, including capabilities in computer science, engineering, business administration, social sciences etc., the IAO has gained substantial international recognition, both in industry and academia. Approximately a dozen demonstrators, laboratories and show-rooms are available to present the institute’s complete range of competences to a wider public. These demonstrators, for instance, include the Office Innovation Center, the Virtual Reality Lab, the Usability Lab and the Innovation Engineering Lab.

The Fraunhofer IAO collaborates with small and mid-sized enterprises (SME) as well as with larger corporations in manufacturing and service industries. It also participates frequently in publicly funded research programs, such as the programs of the European Union, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as well as in programs funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Fraunhofer IAO in Brazil

During the last decade, the Fraunhofer IAO has established multiple links with public Brazilian bodies, mostly in the states of Santa Catarina, Paranà and Rio Grande do Sul. These include

The majority of IAO’s activities with Brazilian companies have focused on innovation and technology management-related subjects. In particular, Fraunhofer IAO had the opportunity to collaborate with Embraco (, the world’s leading manufacturer of hermetic compressors. During the past seven years, this cooperation has lead to several successful projects, including the development of a technology strategy, the identification of new market opportunities for Embraco, the design of innovation processes as well as the re-configuration of the business model.
In the course of such activities, Brazilian partners can benefit from the IAO’s competences in different ways, such as

  • applying state-of-the-art R&D, technology management and innovation methods,
  • learning from best practices,
  • benchmarking oneself against good practice companies (worldwide),
  • getting access to the Fraunhofer network of technology experts.

The role of IAO can be defined in different ways. For instance, Fraunhofer IAO can act as a consultant, setting up and leading a project. However, our specialists have also acted as external advisors/coaches or even as match-makers, connecting Brazilian firms with German technology specialists.
As a consequence of the past activities, IAO has run a seminar on technology management in 2007 in Curitiba and contributed to the Brazilian-German Cooperation Week in Rio Grande do Sul (Oct. 2009). It has also presented a methodology applied during its consulting activities in a management seminar in Stuttgart held in 2009, in collaboration with Symnetics / Tantum - Group ( This event will be repeated in 2010.