In February 2014 President Obama launched an initiative proposed in 2012 to establish a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a public-private technology and manufacturing network modelled on Germany’s Fraunhofer Institutes.
With around 23,000 employees, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is Europe's largest applied research organization. Founded in 1949, its role is to conduct applied research geared towards the immediate needs of businesses and for the benefit of society as a whole. This collaborative approach, whereby new products and processes are jointly developed by manufacturers and research institutes, has served Germany well for decades. In the US, however, it is unknown territory. Now all that's about to change.
One of the first of 45 Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs) envisaged in the US is to be built in Chicago at a cost of 320 million USD. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE, one of the leading daily newspapers in the US, saw this announcement as an opportunity to get a first-hand account of the work of the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, together with two examples of successful collaboration between the Fraunhofer and German manufacturing companies. They singled out Plasmatreat GmbH from North Rhine-Westphalia and Wittenstein AG from Baden Württemberg as illustrations of success stories.
In early March 2014, reporter Kathy Berger and her cameraman Zbigniew Bzdak visited Plasmatreat's headquarters in Steinhagen. Her article entitled “A Model for Innovation” appeared in the Sunday edition of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE on the 30 March 2014.
The fascinating report and two of the videos included with it can be found on our Facebook page at: