Jubiläum 25 Jahre Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
Jubiläum 25 Jahre Fraunhofer IESE

Anniversary: 25 Years Fraunhofer IESE

Engineering the Digital Future since 1996

This year we are celebrating our 25-year anniversary Since our institute was founded, we have been researching and working with our partners on trend-setting key technologies – always keeping in mind the goal of strengthening the economy and providing added value for society.

Throughout the year, we will provide you with exciting highlights here – from our history to digital topics for the future.

Because with our topics and solutions, we do not only address what is happening today, but also think about how we can shape the digital future of tomorrow.

This is why we are the MORGEN DENKER*!

[*: The “Thinkers of Tomorrow”, which is the title of our German podcast series.]

#2021 is a special year for Fraunhofer IESE

Kick-off for “25 Years of Fraunhofer IESE”

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Welcoming address by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Liggesmeyer, Director of Fraunhofer IESE

In our video message for the kick-off of “25 Years of Fraunhofer IESE” [with English subtitles], Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Liggesmeyer, Director of Fraunhofer IESE, takes you on a journey into the digital future:


“Let us not only look back, but let us look at the future together!”

#Time travel over the past 25 years

Over the course of our anniversary year, ISA will take a chronological look back with us at the last 25 years – from the founding of Fraunhofer IESE until today. Who still remembers what went on in 2010?


© Fraunhofer IESE
On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Konrad Zuse, Horst Zuse inaugurates the exhibit of Z23 at IESE.

From the chronicle of IESE:

2010 was the 100th birthday of computer pioneer Konrad Zuse. On 8 July 2010, IESE opened its treasure collection and presented Zuse’s famous computing machine Z23. At a ceremony, Horst Zuse paid tribute to his father’s lifetime achievements and inaugurated the refurbished Z23 as an exhibit for posteriority. This computing machine was an important milestone for the development of commercially produced computers, and only very few such machines still exist today.

With a new “Innovation Center” in Kaiserslautern, the competencies of the Technical University (TU) and the two Fraunhofer Institutes IESE and ITWM in applied mathematics and computer science were bundled. The establishment of the European Technology & Innovation Center of the agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere in Kaiserslautern was a highlight of our industrial collaborations. Peter Liggesmeyer, scientific director of Fraunhofer IESE, became spokesperson of the newly founded Fraunhofer Embedded Systems Alliance.

More on 2010 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

"2010 was the year of the tablet computer. Everyone wanted to get their hands on one of the first iPads, which meant that Apple had more than 50,000 preorders in the first few hours already.

But who of you would have known that computer science entered West German universities with the Zuse computer Z22, which was built starting in 1958? One of the reasons: Its procurement was state-subsidized ;-). Its successor, the Z23, was only built 98 times and can be admired on the premises of IESE."


© bz_saemmer
Prof. Dr. Rombach receives the Federal Cross of Merit from the former Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck.

From the chronicle of IESE:

2009 was a year of awards: The Fraunhofer Center, which consists of IESE and ITWM, became a “Selected Landmark 2009” in the competition “365 Landmarks in the Land of Ideas” for the innovative technical conference with affiliated technical exhibition “Digital Commercial Vehicle Technology”.

The director of our institute, Prof. Dieter Rombach, received the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon awarded by the German President as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of Oulu, Finland, for his lifetime achievements as a software engineer.

Experiences, innovations, and trends in software and systems engineering were the focus of the Software Engineering 2009 (SE 2009) conference organized by the Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (German Informatics Society) at Fraunhofer IESE with more than 200 participants from industry, research, and government. 

More on 2009 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

"While IESE was showered with awards, world events were dominated by rescue packages for the economy to barely avoid the collapse of the global financial system.

In addition, a global pandemic called swine flu struck fear into the hearts of the world.  "

In 2009 the financial crisis concerns the whole world


© Fraunhofer IESE
The exhibit accompanying the 1st annual “Digital Commercial Vehicle Conference”

From the chronicle of IESE:

The year 2008 held an anniversary in store for us software engineers: The term “Software Engineering” was first coined exactly 40 years – incidentally on the occasion of a NATO meeting in Garmisch, Germany. In the meantime, this research area has even made its way into our homes: For our research work in the area of “Ambient Assisted Living”, we received an award as “Selected Landmark 2008” as part of the initiative “Germany – Land of Ideas”.

2008 also saw the 1st annual “Digital Commercial Vehicle Technology Conference” held at the Fraunhofer Center, the launch of the IESE Academy with a top-class seminar program, and the establishment of the German Center for Emergency Medicine and Information Technology DENIT at IESE. 

More on 2008 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

"In 2008, the world looked towards America, where Barack Obama won the election as U.S. president and went down in the history books as the first African-American president of the United States. 2008 was also the year of a downturn in the global economy, the origin of which was the U.S. real estate crisis in 2007 and the subsequent financial market crisis.

IESE was able to successfully defy this downward spiral with innovative software and systems engineering solutions!"

© iStock.com/Rypson
In 2008, the U.S. is at the center of the world!


© Fraunhofer IESE
German President Köhler visits Rhineland-Palatinate and makes a stop at Fraunhofer IESE.

From the chronicle of IESE:

The highlight of 2007 was the visit of German President Horst Köhler on 7 November, to whom we presented life assistance systems and smart living environments in our “Ambient Assisted Lab” as a technological implementation of the motto of his visit, “Partnership of the Generations”. The year 2007 was also characterized by our research in the area of Ambient Intelligence – from projects with senior citizens to our participation in CeBIT 2007.

With the Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster “Digital Commercial Vehicle Technology”, a new cooperation between IESE, Fraunhofer ITWM, and several industrial companies was established for the joint development of new solutions for competition-relevant challenges of the commercial vehicle industry. 

More on 2007 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

"Product of the year 2007 was Apple’s first portable computer – the iPhone! It pushed Blackberry and the like out of the market because not only could you make phone calls, take pictures, and surf the web – no, it also looked great and was easy to use. And so the iPhone has changed the smartphone industry for good to this day."

© istock | deepblue4you
First iPhone G3


© Fraunhofer IESE
The "virtual printer" at IESE is unveiled together with RICOH.

From the chronicle of IESE:

The grand opening of the Fraunhofer Center took place on 21 February 2006. At the 2006 Soccer World Cup, we provided a “virtual printer” as a service to journalists as part of the “Virtual Office of the Future” competence center, together with the Japanese company RICOH and the World Cup office of the city of Kaiserslautern. On 10 October, we celebrated our tenth anniversary and officially opened our “Assisted Living Lab” to research novel technologies for “smart” living environments that provide optimal everyday support for elderly people or people in need of assistance. Due to increasing demand from the public sector for systems engineering, we also expanded our portfolio to include the business area “eGovernment”.

More on 2006 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

»Soccer, soccer, and more soccer – the 2006 World Cup was a nationwide, roaring soccer festival. Germany may not have won the World Cup, but it was the champion of hearts!

And IESE not only celebrated heartily, but together with other partners provided a virtual printer as a service for the World Cup games held in the city of Kaiserslautern.«


Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
The “hyperboloid” is set up in front of the Fraunhofer Center.

From the chronicle of IESE:

The year 2005 was special in every respect. One dominating topic for us was the move to the new Fraunhofer Center on Trippstadter Strasse. Before the building could be handed over, today’s “landmark” was installed: the 13-meter-high "hyperboloid", which was designed and built by the artist Martin Willing. Fraunhofer IESE already moved in in August, with Fraunhofer ITWM following in December.

In 2005, we intensified our involvement in the areas of Embedded Systems and Ambient Intelligence and, among other things, further expanded our cooperation with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA. In the fall, we hosted the annual DASMA conference MetriKon, which has traditionally focused on the topics of “Software Metrics” and “Effort Estimation of IT Projects”.

More on 2005 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

»While the institute management and the staff of Fraunhofer IESE moved into the new institute building, there were two other changes of significance to Germany in 2005:

A German Pope named Joseph Ratzinger followed the late John Paul II into the Vatican and gave himself the name Benedict XVI. And on 22 November, Angela Merkel became the first woman in history to be elected Chancellor by the German Parliament.«

© iStock.com/omm-on-tour
Moving into the Chancellor’s Office: Angela Merkel becomes Germany’s first female chancellor.


Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
Grundsteinlegung für das Fraunhofer-Zentrum in Kaiserslautern

From the chronicle of IESE:

2004 was a successful year for our institute in every respect. Against the background of steadily increasing revenues and growing staff numbers, we strengthened the management level with a second institute director - Prof. Dr. Peter Liggesmeyer – in order to be prepared for the future in the best possible way. As for our scientific reputation, we were able to improve our 6th place in the worldwide ranking of the “Journal for Systems and Software” from the previous year to 4th place. With the signing of the cooperation agreement with the Japanese Ministry of Economy (METI), we further expanded our activities with Japanese partners. On 30 April, the foundation stone for the new Fraunhofer research center was laid in the presence of many VIPs.

More on 2004 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

»In February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and his co-founders initiated Facebook at a Harvard student dormitory. What initially started as a digital yearbook for students is now also indispensable at IESE as the social media platform for addressing our young researchers.

In terms of sporting events, a lot was going on that year as well: Olympic Games in Athens and European Football Championship, where a sensation was achieved. With Otto Rehhagel as their coach, Greece became the European soccer champion for the first time ever! «

Facebook Screenshot
© iStock.com/luchezar
For Fraunhofer IESE, too, Facebook is a portal to reach young students.


Startschuss: Offizieller Baubeginn für das dritte Fraunhofer-Institutszentrum in Deutschland war am 27. Oktober 2003., Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
Startschuss: Offizieller Baubeginn für das dritte Fraunhofer-Institutszentrum in Deutschland war am 27. Oktober 2003.

From the chronicle of IESE:

In 2003, Fraunhofer IESE achieved an excellent 6th place among all software & systems engineering research institutions worldwide in the international ranking of the prestigious journal “The Journal of Systems and Software” – as the only German and best European institute among the Top 15. In view of the ever shorter cycle time for the development of innovative products, we established “Research Labs” as a new form of cooperation, where user experts from a company collaborate with our researchers directly at IESE for a limited period of time. Among the first was the competence center “Virtual Office of the Future” with the Japanese IT giant RICOH. Furthermore, on 27 October, ground was broken for the new Fraunhofer Center.

More on 2003 in the annual report.

ISA looks back:

"International cooperation was the main focus of IESE. The Concorde also connected continents for several decades before it was retired in 2003.

Unfortunately, even back then diseases such as SARS did not stop at national borders – with enormous consequences for humankind and the economy."

© iStock/Erich Karnberger
The Concorde supersonic aircraft is decommissioned in 2003 due to insufficient profitability.


Baupläne Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
Appointment with the former Lord Mayor of the City of Kaiserslautern: "The plans are ready – another milestone on the way to the Fraunhofer Center."

From the chronicle of IESE:

In 2002, application areas and industries became the key factors in the reorientation of our applied research topics, and new forms of strategic collaboration with our customers in industry emerged. We newly established business areas in the fields of embedded systems, infrastructure services, IT-based business processes, and software engineering methods. Our competence areas focused on systematic-experimental methods, software development, software management, and software competence development. In 2002, the planning of the new institute building also continued: The premises were transferred to the Fraunhofer- Gesellschaft, a team of architects was selected, and the construction plans were finalized and approved by the federal and state governments.

More on 2002 in the annual report.

ISA looks back:

"The year 2002 started with a real Euro euphoria: Germans, and certainly some IESE employees, could not wait to hold the new banknotes of the common currency in their hands. However, people quickly mourned the DM and the term TEURO (made up of teuer (German for expensive) and euro) was born.

Furthermore, the "ILSE" depression hit many European countries, and in August 2002, its unbelievable water masses destroyed parts of Saxony and Bavaria, in particular."

The euro ushered in the age of a new currency., Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
The euro ushered in the age of a new currency.


© Fraunhofer IESE
Kurt Beck, former MP of Rhineland-Palatinate and Prof. Dieter Rombach, institute founder and former head of IESE on the way to the ceremony

From the chronicle of IESE:

The highlight of 2001 was the celebration of our institute's fifth anniversary. A strategic reorganization of the institute, where the static line organization was supplemented by a dynamic matrix organization of business and competence areas, became the basis of our continuing success. We further expanded our collaborations, also with international partners and with the University of Kaiserslautern, and received recognition for our research achievements. In September, we organized the first major conference at our institute, the 3rd International Conference on Product Focused Software Process Improvement (Profes 2001). Furthermore, in 2001 we initiated the first planning activities for a new building for our institute.

More on 2001 in the annual report.

ISA looks back:

"While tourist trips were already leaving Earth in 2001 - we remember the multimillionaire Dennis Tito and his trip into space for a modest 33 milion US dollars - IESE remained on Earth in terms of internationalization, To accommodate our growth, the institute's management started to think about a new building.

By the way: In January 2001, Wikipedia was founded as an ad-free online encyclopedia in numerous languages. But who would have thought back then that an encyclopedia based on volunteer authors would actually work? And today? It's hard to imagine life without it!"

© iStock.com/tomch
Wikipedia - the No. 1 information platform for 20 years


© Fraunhofer IESE
Well-equipped for the software industry? "Exhibition at the State Garden Fair in Kaiserslautern"

From the chronicle of IESE:

The year 2000 was marked by important internal and external developments. The internal developments included the transition of Fraunhofer IESE to permanent institute status, a strategy discussion that lead to a reorganization of Fraunhofer IESE, as well as further improvement of our customer orientation. The external developments included our growing status as a national software engineering competence center and as one of the leading competence centers in (experimental) software engineering worldwide, as well as the successful development of our sister organization in the U.S. Overall, the year 2000 was our most successful year to date.

More on 2000 in the annual report.

ISA looks back:

"Not only in the most successful year of IESE to date did everything revolve around even more customer orientation. The new cult cell phone Nokia 3310 also captured the spirit of the times with funny or extravagant Jamba ringtones. With the USB stick, the smallest common storage medium arrived on the market and was of course offered in all kinds of shapes and colors to suit the tastes of its clientele.

By the way: “Big Brother is watching you” – in nearly every German living room starting in February 2000."

© redstallion
USB stick in all variants, there was something for every taste!


Mit dem Euro begann ein neues Währungszeitalter., Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
An institution becomes an institute

From the chronicle of IESE:

In October 1999, the Fraunhofer Senate voted to make our institute a permanent member of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft e.V., effective immediately. This decision was based on a very successful external review of our research competencies and business orientation by a panel of highly renowned experts in 1998, almost four years of successful industry collaborations, and the conviction that the market for software engineering expertise will continue to grow in the future.

More on 1999 in the annual report.

ISA looks back:

"The millennium said goodbye with an impressive total solar eclipse over Germany, Europe, and Western Asia. At the time, the millennium gave rise to the wildest speculations about the future. However, the expected large-scale breakdown of computers was not to come true, so IESE was able to further expand its offerings in the area of software and systems engineering without any complications.

By the way: did you know that the euro was already introduced in 11 EU countries in 1999? However, only as demand deposit…"

© iStock.com/Ryan Herron
Admiring the solar eclipse with special glasses


Chronik 1998, Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
Prof. Basili and Prof. Rombach at the founding ceremony of the Fraunhofer Center Maryland.

From the chronicle of IESE:

The year 1998 was marked by a reorganization of IESE to better address industrial needs across major branches of industry. Several new competence centers were added (e.g., learning organizations in the areas of software as well as training and continuing education), and the SWA Software Akademie AG was established in Kaiserslautern to enable professional marketing and organization of our industrial training and education program. Internationally, the most outstanding event was the founding of the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering, Maryland (FC-MD), which is closely affiliated with the University of Maryland at College Park, and its official opening on 25 February 1998 in the presence of numerous prominent political representatives from Germany and the US.

More on 1998 in the annual report.

ISA looks back:

"In 1998, IESE set out for the land of unlimited freedom and founded the Fraunhofer Center Maryland in the USA. Unfortunately, this was not a good year to be noticed by the American press, as for weeks there was only one topic: the so-called Lewinsky affair.

By the way: Incidentally, while the FCK immediately became German champion following its promotion from the second German soccer league to the Bundesliga, Trapattoni, the Bayern coach at the time, was less pleased with his portégé Strunz: “I have finished!😉“."

© 1. FC Kaiserslautern
The championship team of 1. FCK 1998


From the chronicle of IESE:

The year 1997 was characterized by the further build-up of our staff and our continuing establishment as an internationally leading center of competence, which was reflected, among other things, in our increased participation in international conferences, numerous journal publications, and longer visits by internationally leading software engineering experts at IESE. In terms of collaborations with industry, the number of both follow-up and new orders increased, and a trend towards long-term strategic industry collaborations emerged.

More on 1997 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

"While the Mercedes A Class was literally thrown off course in the so-called “moose avoidance test” in 1997, IESE was by no means thrown into a tailspin. With long-term strategic industry collaborations and increasing international recognition, the institute had its sights set firmly on the fast lane.

By the way: The year was characterized by a lack of sleep and a lack of concentration because a Tamagotchi moved into many households, beeping day and night because it wanted to be fed and cared for."

Das "elektronische Küken" - Tamagotchi, Fraunhofer IESE
© iStock.com/Goldenburger
The "electronic chick" - Tamagotchi


Prof. Dieter Rombach at the opening ceremony on 14 Feb 1996, Fraunhofer IESE
© Fraunhofer IESE
Prof. Dieter Rombach at the opening ceremony on 14 Feb 1996

From the chronicle of IESE:

In the first year of our existence, we already received significant support from companies in all major branches of industry, established ourselves as a highly recognized applied research institution, and became an integral part of the information technology infrastructure in our home state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Our highly qualified staff of international standing grew from 14 employees at the time of our foundation on 14 February 1996 to 67 employees at the end of 1996. We acquired industry projects from numerous industries and built up an international research reputation

More on 1996 in the annual report

ISA looks back:

"Two new stars in the IT sky were born. In addition to Nintendo 64, Fraunhofer IESE also made its debut. 

By the way: A whole generation burst into tears ─ the boy band "Take That" announced their separation!"

The controller of the n64 Nintendo game console, Fraunhofer IESE
© iStock.com/ luza studios
Common year of birth:
Fraunhofer IESE and Nintendo 64


Stay up to date: join us on a digital journey through 25 years of Fraunhofer IESE in the anniversary year. It will be continued in the coming weeks. See you soon!