Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering

Sight of Fraunhofer IBMT in Sulzbach
© Fraunhofer IBMT (Photo: Bernd Müller)

About Us

Operating in the international growth markets for life sciences and medicine/medical technology, the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engerineering IBMT since its foundation in 1987/1992, primarily acts as technology developer and device manufacturer for clients from all over the world.       

As a founding member of the now six institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft´s Group Life Sciences, Fraunhofer IBMT works closely together with its industrial customers as well as public and private clients. The IBMT´s strategy is focused on the areas of biomedical/medical technology (especially non- and minimally invasive as well as miniaturized technologies), biotechnology, implants, cryotechnology, biobanks and stem cell research. Trend-setting automated laboratory technologies, the development of mobile special laboratories (S3, GMP, GCLP, etc.) and information technologies for healthcare solutions round off the portfolio of Fraunhofer IBMT. Decades of expertise in biotechnology as well as medical research and development fields allows us to solve a variety of purely technical tasks. In this context, ultrasound-based level metering, special transducers for acoustic applications, but also microelectrodes and miniaturized manipulation systems as well as automated in vitro culture devices are mentioned.

Well balanced between basic and applied research, the institute promotes the »lively-experienced« technology transfer in medicine and biotechnology, laboratory technology, food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries and environmental technology as well as in other areas of industry and knowledge-intensive services.

For many years, Fraunhofer IBMT works in the field of stem cell research and until now as the only institute of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft obtained permissions (No. 18, 19 and 44) of the Robert Koch Institute to import and scientifically use human embryonic stem cells. In recent years, the production and characterization/expansion of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) have been added. The institute is involved as part of a major European project to build an international iPS cell bank.

Core competencies of Fraunhofer IBMT are:

  • Biomedical/medical engineering/technology
  • molecular and cellular biotechnology
  • nano(bio)technology and molecular diagnostics/therapy
  • cryo(bio)technology (from cryoprocedures up to cryomicroscopy)
  • stem cell research and cell differentiation
  • tissue engineering and development of new in vitro culture systems
  • neuroprosthetics and technical implant components
  • design and construction of small, medium and large biobanks
  • (mobile) laboratory technologies, new concepts of wireless energy supply
  • medical and technical ultrasound applications
  • autonomous deep-sea systems and acoustic imaging
  • sensor manufacturing/microsystems technology
  • telemetric data and energy transmission
  • multi-local sensors connected by communication technology
  • health information systems/medical networks

The technology transfer from basic research is carried out along the innovation rail ranging from scientific-technical consulting, feasibility study, prototype development, field testing, engineering and support to low- and medium-volume manufacturing in separate project phases. Spin-off companies of the IBMT take over, if necessary, for system manufacturing as a service, so that the fastest possible implementation of our clients´ needs is given up to the market. Further business segments represent the consulting of venture capital societies, concept of studies and expertises as well as supporting start-up companies. The IBMT is active in the region of Saarland and, since early 2012 in North Rhine-Westphalia (Münster). The acquisition and customer care are made globally.

The institute is funded through research and development contracts of public and private (mainly industrial) customers. The integration of a broad technological expertise and profound knowledge on medical and biological field as well as the availability of modern technologies of microsystems technology and nanotechnology to IT and simulation, giving it a prominent position in Europe.

With the establishment of the Institute for Biomedical Engineerig or a precursor by Prof. Dr. Klaus Gersonde, in 1987, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft intended to contribute to science and engineering and scientific research in particular to modern technologies and technology transfer in the field of clinical research in Saarland in collaboration with well-known national and international university departments and hospitals, the University of the Saarland and institutes of Helmholtz, the Leibniz Association and Max Planck Society. The founding institution has its headquarters in St. Ingbert (near Saarbrücken) and since April 1, 2001, is headed by Prof. Dr. Günter Fuhr who accepted a call to the Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering at the Medical Faculty of University of Saarland at the same time. Furthermore, Fraunhofer IBMT is connected with the Faculty of Chemistry, Pharmacy, Bio- and Material Sciences about a Chair of Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology/Nanotechnology, occupied by Prof. Dr. Heiko Zimmermann. In 2012, Professor Zimmermann was appointed the second director of the IBMT. Prof. Dr. Hagen von Briesen links the institute with the Medical Faculty of the University of Saarland, Department of Experimental Hematology. Another Chair of Biomedical Engineering, occupied by Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Hoffmann, Head of the Department of Medical Engineering & Neuroprosthetics in St. Ingbert, connects Fraunhofer IBMT with the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) of the Saarland. On this basis, the institute has an excellent training and higher education expertise, which is reflected in a variety of theses (the master via a promotion to junior professorship and habilitation) and an lively scientific life.

The institute is structured according to its business areas into two main departments: Cell Biology & Applied Virology and Ultrasound as well as eight departments: Biobanks & Cryorepositories, Bioprocess Technologies & Nanotechnology, Medical Ultrasound, Technical Ultrasound, Laboratory & Information Technology, Medical Engineering & Neuroprostetics, Biomedical Microsystems and Medical Biotechnology at its St. Ingbert/Sulzbach site. The departments are operating as independent profit and cost centres.

The IBMT was with its founding, the 45th institute in the community of now 67 Fraunhofer institutes. A total of  426 people were employed at the IBMT in 2013.