The history of the foundation of DKSR

Data DNA for the city of the future


Our cities and communities are facing enormous challenges: Climate change, traffic change or regional energy and resource management have long since become part of the daily routine of administrations and urban planners – tasks that can hardly be managed satisfactorily without a forward-looking data infrastructure. A Fraunhofer spin-off could now decisively advance the digital transformation of our urban living spaces: The Data Competence Center for Cities and Regions (DKSR) is developing an open-source platform with which municipalities can not only manage their data professionally, but also use it to create value, save resources and digitally empower their populations.

Today, municipalities already use a variety of digital systems, tools and aids in all areas of urban city management and design – but the future vision of a smart, intelligent city that not only operates in a climate-neutral manner, but also promises lasting growth and prosperity and offers quality of life for all segments of the population, requires more: A functioning smart city needs an overarching intelligence, a data management system with which the data sets from different areas can be aggregated, harmonized and securely used for tailored solutions. In this way, not only can urban services be precisely tailored to current needs, such as waste disposal or traffic lights at neuralgic traffic junctions, but immense resources can also be saved, for example when urban green spaces automatically report their current water requirements using sensor technology or raw materials are recycled in inner-city cycles. The Fraunhofer spin-off DKSR now offers this digital data DNA, which cities and municipalities can use to advance the development into a smart city step by step, securely and tailored to their own needs.


German municipalities generally have all the relevant data to make the digital upgrade of their administration and community a reality – but existing systems and organizational forms of data management often hinder a successful and systematic digital transformation. This is precisely where the DKSR comes in with its open source model for data management in cities and municipalities. The Fraunhofer spin-off’s platform and connected services enable municipalities to enter the digital future regardless of the maturity of their existing data management, with scalable entry-level solutions that can be tailored precisely to a municipality’s current needs. An analysis, qualification and curation of the already existing treasure trove of data offers a sensible entry scenario, especially for many smaller cities, with which effective structures can be established cost-effectively and potential for value-added data use can be identified. On this basis, municipalities can use the open source platform to set up and host their own data management with the DKSR in an uncomplicated and secure manner. The Morgenstadt Urban Data Community rounds off the 360° service package for urban transformation. The community ensures exchange, mutual learning based on best practices and common challenges among all participating municipalities. Promising models and applications from other communities can thus be easily adopted by the participants via “plug and play”. Participating municipalities can also easily access start-ups and specialized providers of additional services. Similar to a secure and quality-checked app store, their applications can then be made available to all cities and municipalities in an open ecosystem.


The DKSR is not only setting new standards for urban data management: Five Fraunhofer institutes are directly involved in the spin-off. Fraunhofer IAO as the initiator, as well as the partner institutes Fraunhofer IESE, Fraunhofer IOSB-INA, Fraunhofer FOKUS, and Fraunhofer ISST, each contribute essential technologies and competencies. On the industry side, the co-initiators include Deutsche Telekom, the Urban Software Institute, and the IT consulting firm axxessio. The DKSR emerged from the Fraunhofer Morgenstadt Initiative, a dynamic research network in which Fraunhofer institutes, companies and representatives of municipalities jointly think ahead to innovations for the city of tomorrow, develop models and test new applications. In the roughly eight years of joint collaboration since Morgenstadt’s founding, the participants have come to realize that the Morgenstadt network’s unique portfolio of expertise and technology could also provide an excellent basis for the practical application of research findings.


Dr. Alanus von Radecki, long-time head of the Morgenstadt initiative and now CEO of the DKSR, had already gained start-up experience himself, including as co-founder of BABLE, a Fraunhofer spin-off that precisely links innovative, clean technologies with the needs of cities, urban planners and developers.

Together with the Morgenstadt partners, von Radecki drove the idea of offering municipalities the technology, know-how and tools for data-based applications for citizens, administration and businesses in a secure, transparent and value-added way. However, the numerous partner organizations not only multiplied the economic opportunities, they also made the legal and financial construct of this new form of spin-off a challenge for all involved. Fraunhofer Venture’s consulting tandem accompanied the spin-off team through this negotiation process, navigating complex legal issues, structuring the various interests and supporting the founders and partners in turning diversity into a transparent win-win constellation for all involved.

In the meantime, the DKSR is preparing the further development of its platform for market entry in the 2nd phase of the Fraunhofer AHEAD program. The team is working step by step to realize its vision: to set the new standard for municipal data management in the next few years.

The team is working step by step to realize its vision: to set the new standard for municipal data management in the next few years.

Tip for other founders:

„For founders, perfection means learning quickly from practical application, user feedback and also from your own mistakes – this is a mentality that Fraunhofer spin-offs often have to learn first – but the combination of Fraunhofer knowledge and an agile willingness to learn can become a real formula for success.

Alanus von RadeckiDKSR