Morgenstadt: Creating the cities of tomorrow

How do we want to live and work in the city of tomorrow?

Several years ago, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft recognized the role played by cities as the “drivers” of ecological, social and economic innovations. In 2011, Fraunhofer experts from different topic and application fields joined forces to support cities on their journey toward greater innovation. In the “Morgenstadt: City Insights” (m:ci) joint research project, ten Fraunhofer Institutes have pooled their expertise with a further 37 partners from municipal governments and industry to offer cities wide-ranging support for sustainable city development.

Morgenstadt City Labs

A concrete form of collaboration between cities and Fraunhofer researchers is the “City Lab” concept. Based on the methods, tools and approaches of the Fraunhofer Morgenstadt systems approach, this is an in-depth analysis of cities, and has now been implemented in numerous cities in Germany (Berlin, Chemnitz) and further afield in Europe (Prague, Lisbon, Tbilisi). Whereas most studies about cities are concerned with macroeconomic data such as population and economic growth and real estate prices, the City Lab approach takes a different tack, combining quantitative and qualitative urban analysis data. In addition, the Fraunhofer researchers stay on-site for several weeks and get a feel for what the city is like. They talk to the most important players and stakeholders and host workshops. Based on what they learn, they provide the cities with concrete recommendations for action and implementation measures.

Morgenstadt City Index

The Fraunhofer Morgenstadt initiative research team developed the “Morgenstadt City Index” – an analytical tool that enables municipal governments to measure and compare just how future-proof they are. The Morgenstadt City Index comprises 28 indicators, which provide an objective classification according to the four pillars of “Livable City,” “Resilient City,” “Green City” and “Innovative City.” This comprehensive inventory mirrors real life much more exactly than the usual city rankings, which limit themselves to individual subject areas. The analysis is based on existing data and statistics that are considered reliable, such as figures on unemployment, medical care, financial indicators, CO2 emissions, and high-skilled jobs and new start-ups. Thanks to the comparability of the index, the cities obtain realistic criteria for evaluating their own strengths and weaknesses. This in turn lets them know where to start developing future-oriented urban development policies and sharpening their own profile.

30 cities have already participated in the scientific ranking process. Provisional results can be viewed at

Future Cities BW

The latest component in the Morgenstadt network is the “Future Cities BW” coordination center, which is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing. Its goal is to bring together local and foreign players in the whole complex of urban topics relating to sustainable building, international urban development and urban technologies. This is important, because although solutions providers in Baden-Württemberg are successful worldwide in the planning and laying out of whole cities, the piecemeal nature of the sector makes it harder to internationalize and initiate multidisciplinary projects and partnerships. The coordination center is managed by Fraunhofer IAO in partnership with the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). As well as networking local players from Baden-Württemberg, the center will also focus on sustainable building in the target markets of Brazil, China, India and the Arabic world.