The 3DFactory Incubator is celebrating today two years of operation. The first European incubator of advanced technology in 3D printing is promoted by the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB) and the technological center Leitat and with the support of FEDER Funds through the Incyde Foundation of the Chambers of Commerce of Spain.
Since its inauguration in March 2019, 55 companies have been incubated, thus exceeding the initial expectations that foresaw reaching 100 projects during the first 5 years, and it has received more than 300 applications from start-ups and entrepreneurs to develop their 3D printing-based business idea in the incubator, of which 79% are of national origin and 21% are international. In this line, the incubator has also contributed to the generation of quality employment, with more than 50 jobs created by the incubated companies.
The facilities host companies from different sectors: consumer goods industry (19), technology consulting (12), healthcare technology (7), mobility (7), ICT (7), robotics (1), logistics (1), and chemicals (1).
Adding value during the pandemic
3D printing is characterized by the freedom it offers in the design and customization of parts, its ability to print complex elements in one piece, without assembly, thus allowing to streamline processes and save costs not only in prototyping but also in the final market product. In this sense, in a year marked by the impact of Covid-19 at a global level, the activity in the 3D Factory Incubator has not been affected and has even expanded its facilities from 600 to 1000 square meters, in response to the increased demand for space by companies and incorporating new scanning equipment, printing and post-processing of parts.
With the spread of the pandemic globally, in March 2020, the incubator team joined forces with CZFB, Leitat, HP, CatSalut, Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa (CST) and Hospital Parc Taulí to create the first medically validated 3D campaign ventilator, Leitat 1. The 3D Factory Incubator also collaborated in the production of the Multivent bifurcator, which multiplies access to assisted ventilation equipment at a time when ICU equipment is in short supply.
The 3D Factory Incubator has become a reference center for Industry 4.0, so in its two years of operation it has received visits from some 850 companies and throughout this last year, despite the difficulties generated by the state of alarm, the visits of Filmax, Samsung, Henkel, BCN3D, Continental, Forbes, HP, Materialise, MWC Foundation or Escribà, among others, stand out.
Likewise, in the last year many authorities such as King Felipe VI; the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez; the Government’s third Vice President and Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño; the Minister of Innovation and Science, Pedro Duque; the High Commissioner for Spain Entrepreneurial Nation, Francisco Polo; or the Government’s delegate in Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera, have wanted to see the incubator first-hand.
Pere Navarro, special delegate of the State at the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, highlights how “in a year marked by uncertainty at a global level, the 3D Factory Incubator has been an example of the type of activity that will lead the new economy”. “From the CZFB we are committed to promoting the development of Industry 4.0, based on sustainability and the creation of partnerships, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Objectives”, assures the special delegate of the entity.
For his part, Joan Parra, CEO, and executive vice president of Leitat, pointed out that “throughout these two years we have witnessed the enormous talent that is emerging around a new industry that is betting on 3D printing, not only as a prototyping tool, but also as the basis for its business project. Additive manufacturing technologies offer multiple advantages and opportunities to turn a priori impossible ideas into successful projects with rapid development: from electric saxophones to insoles 100% adapted to diabetic patients, masks for people with sleep apnea or the latest trend in electric mobility. We have seen how collaborative synergies have arisen among the incubating companies themselves through being part of this innovation ecosystem and we are excited to know that this is only the first step and that very soon these synergies will be able to reach a new level with the opening of the Center of Excellence 4.0, DFactory BCN.”