Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a collection of over 55 highly specialized applied research institutes, has designated Mathematica as its strategic technical computing software. From biomedical engineering to industrial mathematics, Fraunhofer has been such an important force in German science and industry that a commemorative postage stamp was created in honor of its 50th anniversary. In conferring the award, the German postal service stated that Fraunhofer is "the most important partner of the German economy in the fields of research and development."
A majority of the Fraunhofer Institutes have used Mathematica during the last 10 years, but recently Fraunhofer chose to formally increase its Mathematica usage. The decision was made by Fraunhofer's software services department, which monitors software technology and gathers feedback from the institutes to determine which products to use. According to Dr. Michael Erben-Russ, head of the department, "Its many strong calculation features, high-level programming environment, open architecture, and web compliance made Mathematica an obvious choice."
Mathematica's versatility enables it to be used alone as a calculation tool or as a base for specialized application packages, which essentially customize Mathematica for use in specific fields. In fact, since 1998 the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics has developed Analog Insydes, a Mathematica application package for modeling, analyzing, and designing analog electrical circuits.
Mathematica is also a cost-effective technical computing solution, thanks to its long-term viability and its compatibility with most existing infrastructures. This is important for Fraunhofer since the institutes regularly pool their expertise on complex projects. For example, five institutes are currently working together to test the safety of car parts made with magnesium. Without standardized software, interdepartmental collaboration in such a large, diverse organization would be nearly impossible.
Herbert Exner of uni software plus GmbH, the Mathematica reseller that works with Fraunhofer, says that Mathematica "increases the productivity of research labs." By making Mathematica its preferred technical computing software, Fraunhofer facilitates the free flow of information that is necessary to complete contracts quickly and efficiently.
Wolfram Research's flexible general license contracts also made it easy for Fraunhofer to select the best arrangement for its needs. In addition to comprehensive use of Mathematica, Fraunhofer's license also encompasses webMathematica and a number of other field-specific application packages that are used by individual institutes. According to Nick Cantwell, manager of Business Development at Wolfram Research Europe Ltd., "This decision creates a win-win situation for Wolfram Research, uni software plus, and the Fraunhofer Institutes. It is part of our strategic initiative to offer a complete solution for the research setting."