Citizens and Innovations

It is not enough to continuously develop new technologies to put the paradigm of sustainable development into action – It is necessary to renew consumption styles and economic processes from the ground up. Thus we have to fundamentally reconsider our way of gaining knowledge, making inventions and bringing innovations to marketability. Therefore it is necessary to submit the process and infrastructure of research and the educational concepts themselves to a transformation process, as the WBGU*demanded from the scientific world in the survey “World in Transition - A Social Contract for Sustainability”.

Inter- and transdisciplinary research is required which promotes systematic, long-term and context-based thinking and acting and which features a much closer cooperation among humanities, social, natural and technical sciences. At the same time we need “undisciplined” research – a mode of research in which the civil society purposefully introduces its specific knowledge, its creativity and its inventiveness at eye level.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT rises to this challenge by developing and testing new transdisciplinary and participative formats of research.

* WBGU = German Advisory Council on Global Change

Our activities in the area of new formats of research


DEZENTRALE Dortmund – Community laboratory for questions of the present and the future

The DEZENTRALE is a place for collaborative projects that address the pressing questions of the present and the future. Here, engaged citizens, amateurs and experts, nerds and craftsmen, students, designers, engineers, humanists and scientists have the possibility to jointly develop ideas and to put them into practice. Reducing the consumption of resources and emissions, social aspects and the focus on the urban space form the framework for diversified project approaches with practical relevance.



Headed by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) the transdisciplinary joint project CoWerk, funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research BMBF, examines the collaborative economy between low-tech and high-tech – sharing, DIY, makerspaces and open workshops. In trends like self-constructed cargo bikes, sewing workshops, repair-cafés and FabLabs, a new economic model emerges – decentralized, horizontally organized and bearing large potentials for a more sustainable mode of production and consumption.

Design Thinking for better everyday helpers


Retain independence until old age. In the + SeniorDesignLab young and old, professional and layman, housewife and inventor develop need-oriented helpers for everyday life - from the first idea to the prototype. Behind the project lies a changed form of the innovation method Design Thinking.


Festival for new urban skills

Innovative Citizen 2018

Combining the idea of do-it-yourself with modern digital techniques. The 5th Innovative Citizen Festival gives in-depth insight into the maker culture and offers the opportunity to network – and much more.