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Merging nature with technology in the lecture theater

Wittenstein Foundation to cooperate with Fraunhofer IPA and the University of Hohenheim


Reflecting the intensified cooperation between the Wittenstein Foundation, Fraunhofer IPA (Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation) and the University of Hohenheim, a professorship or chair of “Biointelligent Systems Engineering” is to be established at the profile university in Stuttgart. The cooperation agreement was signed on January 9, 2024 and will initially run for five years – with an option to extend.

Depending on which continent you look at, up to five Earths would be necessary to meet humanity’s needs in terms of health, energy, food, housing, mobility and consumption. Yet the capacity of our single planet’s ecosystems is far from sufficient for this purpose and our economic activity, work and life are straining them beyond their ability to regenerate. In order to master this essential societal challenge, digital transformation must go hand in hand with biological transformation, applying fundamental knowledge of nature to technology and consequently also to biointelligent systems.

Potential for far-reaching transformation

Biointelligence is one of the critical innovation pathways for sustainable renewal of manufacturing value added. Dr. Manfred Wittenstein, initiator and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Wittenstein Foundation, is convinced that “In the future, biointelligent concepts, productions and systems will have a decisive influence on the prosperity both of Baden-Württemberg and of Germany as a whole”. More far-reaching and longer-term incentives will be called for, similar to digitalization, to support local industry’s transformation into a biointelligent value chain. Research into, and the further development of, key basic technologies at the interface between biology, hardware and software will be crucial here, as will their systematic integration into businesses and value systems. An adequate knowledge and methods base that would allow application to industry is so far lacking here. Against this background, the objective of the cooperation between Fraunhofer IPA, the University of Hohenheim and the Wittenstein Foundation is to play a defining and leading role in the ongoing development of biointelligent systems engineering. To this end, a Chair of “Biointelligent Systems Engineering” is being established at the University of Hohenheim.

Strengthening biointelligence together

Whereas the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Hohenheim focuses on innovative basic research into nutritional & food sciences and biology, Fraunhofer IPA undertakes application-oriented research and development projects. The IPA has built up extensive expertise in the field of biointelligent value creation in recent years and now wants to work with Hohenheim to massively expand biointelligent systems engineering. The Wittenstein Foundation is supporting this cooperation financially and is committed to bringing biointelligence into widespread use while strengthening public awareness of the issues.

Applications for the Professorship (W3) of Biointelligent Systems Engineering, which is a joint appointment with the Directorship of the Research Group “Engineering of Biointelligent Production and Systems” at the University of Hohenheim, are invited up until April 14, 2024:


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Image source: Fraunhofer IPA / Photo: Rainer Bez

Seated, from left to right: Professor Thomas Bauernhansl (Fraunhofer IPA), Dr. Manfred Wittenstein (Wittenstein Foundation), Professor Stephan Dabbert (University of Hohenheim).

Standing, from left to right: Volker Kübler (Fraunhofer IPA), Dr. Agnes Wulff (Fraunhofer IPA), Professor Julia Fritz-Steuber (University of Hohenheim), Marion Dürr (University of Hohenheim), Professor Jan Frank (University of Hohenheim)


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Image source: Adobe Stock

Biological transformation means applying fundamental knowledge of nature to technology and consequently also to biointelligent systems.

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