ISSN 2330-717X

The Seven Top Industrial Research And Development Trends


How can companies make their research and development activities fit for the future and which promising trends will help them achieve this goal? Fraunhofer IAO put this question to R&D experts and presented their responses in a study titled “Future R&D” as seven key trends shaping the future of research. Early next year, Fraunhofer IAO will also launch the “Future R&D – Trends, Strategies and R&D Ecosystems” innovation network.


The pace at which new technologies are evolving, coupled with the myriad possible applications for businesses – just take AI, for example – poses considerable challenges for companies carrying out research and development (R&D). They will have to restructure or refocus their internal R&D activities accordingly if they are to keep up and make sure they are abreast of all new developments.

Open, agile and digital: Experts prioritize the key success factors for R&D

So what is the secret to managing this change and what are the key success factors and trends in R&D to watch out for? The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO addressed this question in a study which asked international experts to give their opinion. The seven trends most commonly identified in the study, based on the frequency of responses, were:

  1. Structured monitoring of new trends and technologies
  2. Collaboration with cooperation partners in R&D networks
  3. Integrating customers into the development process
  4. Agile development processes
  5. Enhancing the effectiveness of R&D efforts
  6. Targeted skills development of the workforce
  7. Digitalization of R&D processes

What the study reveals is that companies will need to collaborate more openly to enable them to both profit from R&D networks and at the same time take their customers’ needs and wishes into account at an early stage in the development process. Agile processes and targeted skills development are seen as additional success factors. Digital tools and methods not only help companies implement these points, but also digitalize their own end-to-end business processes.

“Future R&D” innovation network is a seedbed for knowledge and experience sharing

Many of the respondents expressed interest in a network project aimed specifically at practicing this important exchange and outward orientation. For this reason, Fraunhofer IAO is initiating the “Future R&D – Trends, Strategies and R&D Ecosystems” industrial network project from 2020 and is inviting interested R&D experts to get on board. The goal is to start with a maximum of ten member companies in order to provide a platform for mutual sharing of experience and expertise built on trust. Membership includes an exclusive “R&D Ecosystems” study, workshops on interpreting R&D trends, seminars on using strategic R&D tools, as well as assistance with company-specific implementation tailored individually to the needs of the respective company.


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