Innovation in 2030 – open, digital, systemic?

Fraunhofer-Verbund Innovationsforschung
© Foto Pokki, lvnl – / Fraunhofer IAO


Five hypotheses on the future of innovation in Germany and Europe

By 2030, innovation will take place outside of R&D departments. Innovation processes will be comprehensively digitalized. New products, services and business models will be brought to market as integrated solutions. Knowledge will be freely available and open to all – though the advantage will be with those who can put that knowledge to good use. Europe will have established itself as a global leader in data security and data sovereignty.

Such is the vision put forward by the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research in its new paper “Understanding change, shaping the future - Ideas for the future of innovation.” In the paper, experts from the five member institutes – Fraunhofer IAO, IMW, INT, IRB and ISI – present five hypotheses on the state of innovation in 2030.

What do these forecasts for 2030 imply for the innovation hubs of Germany and Europe? Or, to put it another way: What do the worlds of business, politics and research have to do today to meet the challenges ahead and build on Germany’s leading position as a center of innovation and business in the global marketplace?

Business, politics, research and civil society must seize the initiative

“We need even more dynamism to build on the excellent quality of our innovation system. Only then can German business secure its leading position internationally over the long term – in terms of both system-relevant innovation and the associated societal changes,” says Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. “Today we need to be thinking of cross-industry applications and coming up with new business models catering to the demand side,” he continues. “Society as a whole has a duty to shape the nature, quality, and intensity of the relations among the stakeholders in the innovation system.”

Fraunhofer calls for digital framework from business and politics

Some of the developments outlined in the paper are already making themselves felt: “With digitalization as the driving force, we are already seeing increased public access to information, more innovation at the points of interface between different disciplines, and integrated solutions taking the place of isolated products or services,” comments Prof. Wilhelm Bauer, Chairman of the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research. “On the basis of our five hypotheses on trends relevant to innovation, we have provided business, politics, research and society at large with concrete guidance on next steps. For instance, every company should already be looking to implement a framework for digital action. Another interesting consideration is how companies might be able to profit from publicly available knowledge and open standards,” says Bauer.

Five hypotheses on the future of innovation:

Thesis 1: In 2030, openness, the ability to learn and cooperation will be the guiding principles of innovation.

Thesis 2: In 2030, integrated solutions will be the focus of innovation activities.

Thesis 3: In 2030, innovation processes will be fully digitized.

Thesis 4: In 2030, knowledge will be open to all – the challenge will be to apply it profitably.

Thesis 5: In 2030, Europe will enjoy unique global competitive advantages in terms of data security and sovereignty.

Further information


Download Paper

“Understanding change, shaping the future – Ideas for the future of innovation” is now available for free download (see link below).

Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research

If business, government and society are to succeed, we must understand the complex interdependencies within systems of innovation. For this reason, it is important to recognize changes as soon as they emerge in any sector, market or technology. Only if they comprehend these changes will they be able to actively influence the long-term impacts on the economy, technology, society, politics and culture. As an expert partner that uniquely combines socioeconomic and sociotechnical research, the Fraunhofer Group for Innovation Research offers support to stakeholders in business, government and society.