The top of Europe

In the past years, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML made an essential contribution to sharpen the profile of logistics – with success: today, logistics is seen as independent scientific discipline and high-tech industry. The so-called Enterprise Labs allow establishing a new form of cooperation between business and research. Prof. Dr. Boris Otto helped developing the concept and explains it here.

If the implementation of the Enterprise Labs at Fraunhofer IML proves one thing, then it is that inventive mind and entrepreneurial spirit are two sides of the same medal. The laboratories focus on the joint path from finding the topic up to the market-ready business case. The professional and methodical expertise of the researchers and the market and business knowledge of the practicians do join here. Together, new ideas are transferred into solution concepts that are immediately oriented towards the customer’s business and subsequently into novel product and process innovations. Linking theory with practice equally motivates science and business to think inside and outside the box and plan ahead. The range of inventions and developments extends from the multi-functional and digital shelf tag "iDisplay" up to the autonomous robot in supply logistics, from innovative software for the optimisation of warehouse management up to the digital business models.

In the meantime, there are already five enterprise labs at Fraunhofer IML – all of them with important industry partners representing the future competitiveness of Europe and international innovation transfer. The research facilities of Fraunhofer IML that can be used from the enterprise labs have different technological focal points and serve the application-oriented testing of the latest technologies. Testing grounds and control centres provide the scientists and the future industrial users with realistic testing environments.

The strategic cooperation in an enterprise lab is determined for a least three years and bases on a jointly compiled research and development agenda. Not least the already agreed contract extensions prove that all participating companies fully support the concept. The cooperation between business and science leads to the point that companies are in a position to identify technology trends earlier and actively design future developments. That supports them in further developing their own service offer and strengthens the location Europe in addition to that.



Prof. Dr. Boris Otto holds the Audi-Endowed Chair for Supply Net Order Management at TU Dortmund University and Director for Information Management & Engineering at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML.



  • In the next issues of our newsletter we will introduce some of the individual enterprise labs and their work. The "BMW Enterprise Lab for Flexible Logistics“ will make the start. If you are already interested in more information about the lab’s product – the self-driving robot in supply logistics –, you can find the report of the BMW Group here.
  • Learn more about the enterprise labs at Fraunhofer IML.