He is now in charge of Europe’s largest organization for applied research, with more than 20,000 employees. The Senate of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft elected him in May.
“I am truly looking forward to taking over this function,” says Professor Neugebauer. “Over the past several years, Fraunhofer has achieved tremendous progress. We have succeeded in raising our profile in the political and economic arenas, both in Germany and internationally. And with systems research, such as in electromobility, we have created an excellent tool for internal networking. On this basis – a broad approach within the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and collaboration with industry – we will be able to achieve quantum leaps for individual industries, with the aid of systems research.”
A major focus for Fraunhofer’s future development, from Professor Neugebauer’s viewpoint, is to secure and to reinforce scientific excellence; yet for an organization like Fraunhofer, it is equally important to retain and to foster its flexibility and its capacity to change. “With our own preliminary research, we must continuously tap into new subjects, so that we can continue to be the strategic partner in Germany’s economic future as well. It is essential to establish the scientific basis for sustainable value creation in Germany.” This goal can be achieved if products made in Germany deliver a higher degree of originality and quality than goods manufactured in other countries. Additionally, this can be achieved if the processes are structured so that production can be maintained within a high-wage country.
The general conditions are not easy: Demographic change, energy transition, dwindling resources. Efficiency plays a prominent role here – especially resource-efficient production. This is an issue that has driven Professor Neugebauer for years – within Fraunhofer and in close collaboration with industry – such as the E3 factory: the model of an efficient, emissions-neutral and ergonomic factory. “To us, it’s about securing the future through innovation. With our excellence, our expertise and Fraunhofer’s spirit, we can make more with less – effectively and efficiently,” Neugebauer reiterates. The same applies to the issue of recycling. Particularly with publicly financed projects: according to Neugebauer’s point of view the implementation of the results from these projects can be improved. A professional recycling strategy is one of the pending assignments.
Professor Neugebauer headed the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz for 21 years, turning it into an international leading partner for the automotive and mechanical engineering industry. As the years passed, more locations were added, including Dresden, Augsburg and Zittau, and strategic cooperative relationships were established in South Africa and Italy. In recognition of his scientific achievements, the University of Technology in Munich awarded him an honorary doctorate on September 13, 2012. The Minister President of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, praised Neugebauer’s positive impact on the regional economy by saying that he “embodied the ideals of Saxony as a prime location for business and industry.” Upon his departure from Chemnitz, Tillich awarded him the distinction of the Order of Merit, the highest distinction that the State of Saxony confers.