INVESTIGATION & DESIGN


3DFactory Incubator positions itself as Europe´s first high-tech 3D business incubator

20/01/2021

CATEGORY: Technology centers BRAND: 3D Factory Incubator

The 3DFactory Incubator, located at the headquarters of the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB), is the first business incubator in Europe equipped with high technology focused exclusively on 3D printing.


 

The project is led by the CZFB and the Leitat Foundation and its main objective is to promote the growth of these projects by creating a unique space for the incubation of start-ups, SMEs, micro-companies and spin-offs of large companies related to these economy 4.0 technologies.

 

In a context of constant evolution, with new ways of consuming, interacting and producing, the CZFB and Leitat want to promote the industrial transformation of the Barcelona metropolitan area and help to project it globally, positioning it as the world’s capital of the new economy and Industry 4.0.

 

Within the framework of this new industry, three-dimensional printing technology known as 3D printing has appeared. This methodology and, especially, its intensive use in manufacturing systems will redefine production as we know it, increasing product customization, reducing stocks, reducing the waste footprint and the environmental impact. In this way, in addition to improving the competitiveness of local production systems, progress is also being made in the implementation of a much more sustainable alternative.

 

As it is a very new technology, a hefty investment in research and development is still necessary, as well as in the generation of incubation and transfer of spaces. Thus, in order to carry out this project, in addition to the 1.5 million euros contributed by the two project partners (CZFB and Leitat), another 1.5 million provided by ERDF funds were necessary. Through the Pluriregional Operational Program of Spain 2014-2020 the INCYDE Foundation has granted aid to the 3DFactory Incubator to use in improving the competitiveness of SMEs.

 

 

46 companies incubated in the first year

After being officially inaugurated on February 11, 2019, in an act presided over by the Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities in the Spanish Government, Pedro Duque, on March 1, 2019 the incubator's regular activity began, and companies started arriving and were provided with services. During its first year and a half, more than 46 companies have already been welcomed, a figure much higher than the initial goal of 20 companies per year, and it hopes to reach 100 by 2024. The facilities have 600 square meters that are already being expanded with the aim of being able to welcome a greater number of companies to develop their projects.

 

The 3DFactory Incubator works to promote the business take-off of incubated initiatives through the provision of 3D production services, business consulting, parts certification and commercialization activities.

 

 

Equipment and services

For this, the CZFB’s initiative has 9 state-of-the-art 3D printers, which use up to 7 different technologies, post-processing and quality control equipment, design software and experienced personnel at the disposal of the incubated companies, as well as incubation spaces, networking and training activities. All the machinery is specific for the production of plastic and resins, although it is expected that in the near future the range of printing materials can be expanded. These are unique resources that help grow an innovative project from its early stages.

 

Accordingly, the entity along with Leitat have created an initiative that allows services to be provided along the entire value supply chain: business consulting, 3D parts manufacturing, production certification and marketing support. In addition, the incubation zone includes: co-working areas, offices, design spaces, production and post-processing areas, training areas and meeting rooms.

Pere Navarro, special delegate of the State in the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, points out that “from the CZFB we want to help build the country of the future based on the new economy and, therefore, we create opportunities to encourage companies to take advantage of synergies and overcome the challenges presented by the new industrial revolution”. "The 3DFactory Incubator is showing us that collaboration between companies is much more productive than simple competition", Navarro remarks.

The incubator wants to be a space that welcomes all types of companies, so it offers different options for costs to be fully adapted to their needs and possibilities. It will depend on the type of incubation that is required, whether with a private, co-working or virtual office, and the services that are consumed. Thanks also to the fact that 50% of the services are financed with the aid granted by the ERDF funds, the cost of the stay is completely accessible. With regards to this, companies must stay at the 3DFactory Incubator for a minimum period of 6 months and can stay for a maximum of one year. However, if all parties reach an agreement, the stay can be extended.

 

 

Innovation hub

Thanks to the transversality of technology, the 3DFactory Incubator has a great variety among the sectors from which the incubated projects come: consumer goods, capital goods, health, mobility, consulting, information technology, chemistry and logistics.

 

As stated by the CEO and executive vice president of Leitat, Joan Parra: “We are witnessing a new revolution. Young entrepreneurs and start-ups committed to 4.0 technologies, such as 3D printing, are the companies that will lead tomorrow’s economy. It is a privilege to be able to witness the awakening of many of these incubated companies and to provide them with the necessary resources and advice for their development. This difficult year, both personally and professionally, it has been an honor and a privilege to see the these companies’ adaptability and their search for synergies and collaboration between them in order to provide our society with best and fastest response to its needs."

 

Likewise, the 3DFactory Incubator is part of an even more ambitious project promoted by the CZFB and the Leitat Foundation, the DFactory BCN, a space of 100,000 square meters that contributes to the same objective of positioning Barcelona as the innovation hub in matters of new Southern European economy. The first phase will be inaugurated in 2021 and will have 17,000 m2 of office, laboratory and incubation space to attract companies from all over the world that want to establish themselves in Barcelona to carry out Industry 4.0 activities. In addition, it will also serve as a center for attracting talent and investment.

 

In a context of great uncertainty, the CZFB is committed to continuing to generate opportunities for the development of the 4.0 industry, based on sustainability and innovation, and promoting all the benefits offered by the new economy to generate quality employment and in benefit of equal opportunities for social and territorial cohesion.

 

Blanca Sorigué, general director of CZFB, says “we know the potential of Barcelona to lead the way forward a new economy and we want to be an active part of this transition as well as we want to make known all the possibilities the city can provide to the companies”.

 

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