Artificial Intelligence in the Science Year 2019


The 2019 Science Year was dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). AI has enormous potential to generate new profit for business. Yet this raises many questions – as too do the ethical and legal aspects of its use. In response, Fraunhofer IAO delivered a host of projects, publications, events and illustrative examples – focused primarily on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The topic of AI featured heavily in our diary of events for 2019.

Corporate dialog on artificial intelligence

This all-day event gave companies the chance to find out more about the potential of AI and to share their experience in this field. It featured a variety of interactive formats, ranging from practical presentations on the use of AI to hands-on experience of tested solutions. Companies therefore had ample opportunity to discover strategies and concepts that are suited to their own operation.

Open Lab Day

Held on November 8, our open lab day gave companies the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the latest AI and ML technologies in the institute’s labs and to discuss with our experts their own ideas for potential use cases. The highlight of the event was the presentation of the AI Innovation Center for Learning Systems (see below, “Research collaboration”).

Data science and artificial intelligence

“Digital Business” is the title of a series of events in which Fraunhofer experts explain the theoretical basis behind AI-driven data analysis in the era of big data. Our research activities in this field and our collaboration with industrial partners on concrete projects have led to the creation of a powerful network that encourages interdisciplinary transfer and the adoption of new perspectives. These events are suitable not only for specialists but also for newcomers to the subject who would like to share in our knowledge. The program will continue in 2020:

Research collaboration

AI Innovation Center for Learning Systems. A major highlight of 2019 was the opening of the AI Innovation Center for Learning Systems on October 1 in Stuttgart. This marked Fraunhofer’s accession to Cyber Valley, a research alliance in the field of artificial intelligence. Established by Fraunhofer IAO and Fraunhofer IPA, this new AI Innovation Center provides SMEs with a first point of contact for applied research in the fields of manufacturing and services. There are various forms of collaboration on offer, ranging from initial feasibility studies to the development of early prototypes for AI applications. These are partly financed from the center’s own budget.


The year 2019 saw a host of publications in various formats on the subject of AI. These focused on a variety of subjects and addressed different readerships.

Blog series on AI

Fraunhofer IAO’s blog featured a series of explanatory articles on this topic. Specific posts included “Responsible design of intelligent systems,” “What blockchain can do – and what not” and “Ten steps to a successful pilot project.” All posts can be found in German.

FAQs on artificial intelligence in manufacturing

In cooperation with partners of the Baden-Württemberg Industrie 4.0 Alliance, Fraunhofer IAO has collected – and provided answers to – the 23 questions that companies most often ask on the topic of AI. These have been published on the alliance website. Areas of interest include potential areas of application, the benefits of AI and the ethical aspects of its use. Questions and answers can be found at:

Study of the impact of AI

In a compact study of the use of AI in companies, Fraunhofer IAO assessed the likely impact of AI on Germany’s industry and services sector. A total of 309 companies were surveyed in the first quarter of 2019.

Study of AI applications in the manufacturing environment: On behalf of the Baden-Württemberg Industrie 4.0 Alliance, a study conducted by Fraunhofer IAO and Fraunhofer IPA investigated the practical use of AI for manufacturing companies in Baden-Württemberg.


Fraunhofer IAO sees itself as a service partner to industry in the field of AI. The following is a selection of our services.

Innovation network for an anthropocentric use of AI in manufacturing

This network is an innovation alliance of industrial companies, associations and research partners. Under the leadership of Fraunhofer IAO, the alliance partners build up know-how in the use of AI in the manufacturing environment and design concrete AI use cases for their own company or organization. Anthropocentric use cases of AI show the advantages that AI can bring for the company and for the workforce.

Business Innovation Engineering Center (BIEC)

In what way can small and medium-sized enterprises benefit from the potential of digitalization? Which new technologies and organizational structures offer the best opportunities? The chief purpose of the BIEC is to explain the opportunities of AI to small and medium-sized enterprises in Baden-Württemberg and to facilitate the transfer and development of the latest research in this field. The BIEC adopts a holistic approach that seeks to combine the transfer of easily applicable research with a scientifically based development of methods and tools.