Applied research is an important part of the profile of universities today. Besides commissioned research and development for companies, research projects also are funded by the European Union or from German national and state budgets. Many projects evolve as collaborative research in an interdisciplinary environment with other research partners. Thus the IAF cooperates with reknowned universities, other higher education institutions and research institutes allowing it to hold its own against international competition. Research is an increasingly important part of the master's degree programmes at Furtwangen University, helping to keep the curricula up-to-date. There are several different research areas at Furtwangen University ranging from medical and production engineering, smart systems and web-based infrastructures and applications, to sustainability, innovation and gender research, and research into social and health issues.

An important facet of universities’ research responsibility is the transfer of research results and scientific knowledge to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The IAF therefore uses its expertise to fulfil its obligations as a service provider.

Third-party research funding is a quantitative benchmark for research achievement, and  Furtwangen University is far ahead of other universities of applied sciences in Baden-Württemberg in this respect. Results are presented in over 220 publications and international conferences every year. Many students are also involved in these research activities through their course projects and bachelor’s and master’s theses.