Founding of the Fraunhofer Austria Innovation Center "KI4LIFE" in Klagenfurt

© Fraunhofer Austria/Helge Bauer

A coalition of business representatives, companies and research institutions will support Carinthian companies in digitisation and the central future topic of artificial intelligence.

Since its foundation in 2008, Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH has supported companies of all sizes and industries as an independent partner with know-how and expertise. In addition to the locations in Vienna, Graz and Wattens, where more than 70 employees are already working on application-oriented solutions, the innovation center "Digitization and Artificial Intelligence" - KI4LIFE for short - in Klagenfurt is now the fourth location. Since 1 October 2019, a starting team of scientists has been working there on concrete solutions to problems in order to support Carinthian companies in meeting the challenges of digitisation. In the full expansion, the number of employees is to increase to 15 full-time employees; in the long term, further growth to 30 is planned. The innovation center will initially be located in the immediate vicinity of the University of Klagenfurt - at Universitätsstrasse 102 - and will move to Lakeside Park in July 2020.

The center is made possible by an alliance of strong partners: Fraunhofer provides top know-how and a network consisting of 72 institutes and over 26,000 researchers worldwide, leading Carinthian companies such as Infineon Austria contribute their expertise, their network and their needs, the Carinthian Chamber of Commerce as well as the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Austrian Industry establish a direct line to companies, the city of Klagenfurt and the state of Carinthia strengthen the center with its support. Seven research groups of the Faculty of Technical Sciences of the University of Klagenfurt carry out research in close professional proximity to the orientation of the centre and will develop synergies through cooperation. In addition to the existing consortium, future cooperations with Joanneum Research and the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences are planned. With its application-oriented research, KI4LIFE will bridge the gap between university research and industry.

The cooperation with the university, which includes not only the exchange of knowledge but also the cooperation on challenging industrial projects, is one of the three pillars of the activity profile of KI4LIFE. Another important pillar is contract research within the framework of the project activity, which is also the economic basis of the centre. The third pillar is analysis and consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises. Instruments available in Austria, such as advisory cheques, are used for this purpose. The further qualification of employees and the topic of education play a major role in all areas of activity of the Innovation Centre.

Comments of the partners

"The objective of the Center is to support companies in their digitization efforts in order to secure their future viability and to develop new methods for companies through machine and artificial intelligence. The methodical approach is based on the proven Fraunhofer bridge between science and industry. We see the combination of expert knowledge and machine intelligence from data as a great opportunity for Carinthia as a business location".
Prof. Dr. techn. Dieter W. Fellner, Managing Director Fraunhofer Austria

"The innovation center KI4LIFE of Fraunhofer Austria will especially support Carinthian business and industrial enterprises with artificial intelligence methods in various fields of application. Not only for industrial companies, but also in other sectors, such as tourism or the health and care sector, new fields of application, new business models and process improvements are to be achieved by means of AI. Furthermore, in cooperation with scientists from other research institutions, such as the University of Klagenfurt or Joanneum Research, future-oriented basic research and application-oriented developments at an international level are to be carried out in joint research projects. KI4LIFE should develop into an internationally recognized beacon of AI research and thus also bring international recognition to the state of Carinthia".
Univ. Prof. Prof. e.h. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h.c. Dipl. Wirtsch.-Ing. Wilfried Sihn, Managing Director Fraunhofer Austria

"The fact that an institute of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is settling in Carinthia is another internationally visible exclamation mark, as it is an internationally renowned and Europe-wide leading organization for applied research. On the one hand, this speaks once again for the increasing attractiveness and trust in Carinthia as a location. On the other hand, the federal state of Carinthia provides proof that we are not only able to keep up with the international competition as a business location, but that we also play a pioneering role. With the Fraunhofer branch, our federal state, together with Infineon, Joanneum Research, Lake Side Park, Silicon Austria and many others, is playing a leading role in the development of promising components and solutions throughout Europe.
Dr. Peter Kaiser, Governor of Carinthia

"This cooperation project enables us to attract another strong research institute to Carinthia. Since 2013, we have been working continuously and successfully on turning Carinthia from an R&D latecomer into a preferred pupil - and always with strong partners at our side, such as the Robotics Institute of Joanneum Research, Lakeside Labs, Wood K plus or Silicon Austria Labs. The funds that the state of Carinthia is investing in the innovation center KI4LIFE are invested in basic research as well as in the development of cooperations with local small and medium-sized enterprises. It is extremely important to sensitize our Carinthian SMEs in the field of digitization and to increase their innovation potential."
Dr. Gaby Schaunig, Deputy Governor of Carinthia

"The Carinthian economy should benefit to the maximum from the potential of the two future opportunities of digitisation and artificial intelligence. Only in this way will the business location remain competitive and successful in the future. Especially for the backbone of the Carinthian economy, our many small and medium-sized enterprises, the Fraunhofer Innovation Center offers relevant know-how and practice-oriented solutions for more economic growth through innovations in the age of AI and digitalization.
Sebastian Schuschnig, Member of the Regional Economic Council

"I am proud that we have succeeded in bringing this internationally renowned research institute to Klagenfurt. It is an important contribution to the service and support of the Carinthian economy and its companies and ensures that the Klagenfurt site on Lake Wörthersee is strengthened and further developed by bringing together research, education and companies at the Lakeside Park site. It is our common goal to position and further develop Klagenfurt am Wörthersee as an attractive location for innovation in the centre of the Alps-Adriatic region. Klagenfurt am Wörthersee is the state capital and offers an attractive working and living environment in which the founding of new, future-oriented companies can be promoted, thus offering young people prospects for the future and secure jobs. The location Lakesidepark is a platform for companies, research and education, which provides sufficient space for growth and where interdisciplinary development approaches education and research as well as economic development flow into each other. The establishment of Fraunhofer is an upgrade for this location. The institute, which offers research for the practice of companies, will also develop into an interface to other research institutions such as Joanneum Research, Lakeside Labs, Austrian Institute of Technology, Alpen-Adria-Universität and FH Kärnten which are already located at this location. With its support of this institution, Klagenfurt underlines the focus on research and education in the sense of the mission statement positioning as "SMART CITY".
Dr. Maria-Luise Mathiaschitz, Mayor of Klagenfurt

 "Digitization is a very important opportunity. Artificial intelligence is a key strategic factor worldwide, and its technological and economic potential is enormous across all sectors of society. It is therefore all the more important that key players from industry, research, education and politics have now jointly created the unique opportunity to bring the Fraunhofer Innovation Center 'KI4LIFE' to Carinthia. Infineon has made a major contribution to this. With its expertise, Fraunhofer provides all Carinthian companies - large and small - with comprehensive innovation services that strengthen our competitiveness in an international comparison. This is a strong signal from which the entire ecosystem in the region and beyond will benefit."
Dr. Sabine Herlitschka, Chief Executive Officer Infineon Technologies Austria AG

"For us as the Chamber of Commerce, it is important to take our small and medium-sized enterprises with us on a journey into digitisation and the future of artificial intelligence. The new Kärntner Fraunhofer Innovationszentrum KI4LIFE, by the way the fourth in Austria, will facilitate with its proven experts Kärntner KMU the entrance into concrete research and development projects, in order to bring the digitization and thus the future into our enterprises.
Jürgen Mandl, MBA, President of the Economic Chamber of Carinthia

"We at WKÖ see this project as an important building block in the design of the AI map of Austria. We need not only digital pioneers, but also digital users who can take the digital transformation to the next level. Nearly 100 percent of the companies see themselves as "digitally oriented", yet the full potential is not exploited because many SMEs lack the necessary resources and know-how. KI4LIFE is an important docking station for our companies to become a successful part of Austria as a location for innovation".
Mariana Kühnel, Deputy Secretary General of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ)

"Artificial intelligence is about to revolutionize the productive economy. There is already a strong focus at the University of Klagenfurt. We expect the new Fraunhofer Institute "KI4Life" to strengthen the bridge to industry, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises, whose competitiveness will improve significantly as a result".
KommR. Timo Springer, President of IV Carinthia

 "The University of Klagenfurt has a strong focus on IT, digitisation and artificial intelligence: with our technical faculty, the new interfaculty Digital Age Research Center (D !ARC) and Lakeside Labs, we stand for excellence and innovation in research and teaching. The Fraunhofer Innovation Center KI4LIFE directly on the university campus opens up excellent opportunities for cooperative developments at the interface of research, business and society. The focus is on people".
Univ-Prof. Dr. Oliver Vitouch, Rector, University of Klagenfurt


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