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 2003?

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."


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!"

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…"

© 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
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
© 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!