The TechBridge Program

The Fraunhofer TechBridge Program works with corporations and startup companies to identify and de-risk promising technologies to solve industry challenges. By performing targeted technical searches and conducting validation and demonstration work, TechBridge evaluates and prepares innovative early-stage products for investors and industry.

The TechBridge Challenge

Fraunhofer TechBridge runs “TechBridge Challenges” for our partners to perform technical validation projects that prepare the startup(s) for partnership and provide the sponsor with actionable information about the latest innovations in relevant areas.

Fraunhofer TechBridge provides an open innovation and technology validation platform for investors and industry sponsors.

Fraunhofer TechBridge identifies and de-risks promising technologies by leveraging the extensive resources of Fraunhofer USA and the greater Fraunhofer network.

At the core of Fraunhofer TechBridge is the design and execution of development and demonstration projects that:

i. Optimize and test prototypes

ii. Provide third-party validation

iii. Perform field demonstrations

iv. Evaluate manufacturability

The funding for Fraunhofer TechBridge projects is provided directly by public and private sector sponsors to make Fraunhofer USA / Fraunhofer projects accessible to startups.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Most early-stage technology developers lack the necessary industry knowledge, resources, and funding to cost effectively meet these requirements, preventing both promising technologies from getting to market and high-potential companies from growing. Often the entrepreneurs with the highest potential for growth are those developing game-changing solutions to significant market challenges, yet those very solutions are the hardest ones for a risk-averse market to adopt.

    The core offering of TechBridge is applied, industry-focused projects performed for entrepreneurs by Fraunhofer with the goal to de-risk their novel technologies for the private sector through testing, demonstrating, and validating.

  • Fraunhofer is a leading network of industry-focused applied R&D facilities. Through its non-profit R&D Centers around the globe, the organization performs contract research for companies in nearly all industry sectors. Fraunhofer USA, an affiliate of the global organization, has developed the TechBridge Program in order to leverage its global expertise and resources for entrepreneurs developing game-changing early-stage technologies. Fraunhofer’s highly desired capabilities are otherwise financially out-of-reach for these entrepreneurs, leading to the deployment of TechBridge as the frontend to bring Fraunhofer’s technical services to startups, funded by third-party sponsors.

  • Early-stage companies and technologies are selected on a competitive proposal basis through multiple “TechBridge Challenges” per year. These Challenges are a application-based competitions to select relevant technologies tied to particular corporate innovation requirements.

  • Through its “TechBridge Challenge” platform, Fraunhofer USA TechBridge facilitates strategic corporate 3rd party validation for startups and their products as they enter the market. The model is of strategic interest to corporate partners, who acknowledge the need to engage in “Open Innovation” practices but encounter many internal barriers to doing so. TechBridge acts as an effective tool for corporations to explore and support the development of novel technologies and provides a mechanism for industry feedback to entrepreneurs during early product development.

    This structure allows large corporate sponsors to incubate the technical solutions they seek within the startup community while maintaining the independence of motivated entrepreneurs.

    This early alignment of industry buy-in with entrepreneurial endeavors around technical validation and development projects creates pre-vetted technologies tuned to address particular corporate needs, improving the chances of adoption into incumbent industry operations.

  • Examples are the “SunRISE I” and “SunRISE II” Challenges funded by Royal DSM. These Challenges were designed to identify innovations in solar materials and technologies to reduce the cost of energy for photovoltaic systems, a topic of strategic industry interest to DSM. During SunRISE II, companies such as QD SolarTM and WattglassTM not only had the unique opportunity to connect and build relationships with employees across DSM’s executive suite, business arm, and technical teams, but also received seed financing from DSM. These, among other similar examples, were a direct result from the SunRISE Challenges model of corporate collaboration.

  • Yes. “TechBridge Challenges” are modified and tailored to best identify and select startup companies and early stage technologies within a corporation’s strategic areas of interest. This structure allows large corporate sponsors to incubate the technical solutions they seek within the startup community, even while the independence of motivated entrepreneurs – who are often most productive and innovative outside of large corporate structures – is entirely maintained.

  • Arctic Sand’s power electronics cut power conversion losses

    drastically, enabling low-cost miniature devices. Through TechBridge, Fraunhofer fabricated prototype photovoltaic modules that integrated Arctic Sand’s “invisible electronics,” and then proved their resilience by subjecting the modules to industry-grade durability tests. This work helped guide the startup’s go-to-market strategy, and helped Arctic Sand raise their first $9.6M in private-sector funding.

Current TechBridge Program

The Urban Future Lab at New York University-Tandon, Greentown Labs, and the Fraunhofer USA TechBridge Program announced two major steps forward in their Carbon to Value Initiative (C2V Initiative): the formation of the Carbontech Leadership Council CLC and the opening of applications for their 2021 cohort of startup participants. The C2V Initiative is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Consulate General of Canada in New York.