One urgent mission for European research is to focus on the grand challenges of our time. We discuss how this mission was incorporated into a Fraunhofer corporate programme that takes on global challenges by stimulating collaborative research projects across knowledge domains. Fraunhofer's mission is to conduct innovation-oriented research for the benefit of private and public enterprises as well as society in general. As a decentralised organisation, Fraunhofer's strategic R&D planning predominantly takes place at the level of its 60 institutes and its six groups of institutes, each with similar technological scope. At the corporate level, Fraunhofer complements these strategic planning activities with a process to identify and strategically develop research themes across its institutes. In this paper, we address the question of global challenges, their definition, why and how Fraunhofer can best direct its overarching research topics towards solutions for some of the global challenges. Copyright The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com, Oxford University Press.