The 3D Incubator, the first European high-tech incubator in 3D printing, has reached the initial goal of supporting 100 incubated companies whose business idea is based on the use of 3D printing technologies. By reaching this goal, all the estimated deadlines for it have been shortened, despite the outbreak of the pandemic and the effects of the state of alarm decreed in Spain in 2020. This initiative, co-led by the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB) with the Fundació Leitat, and financially supported by the ERDF Funds through the INCYDE Foundation of the Spanish Chambers of Commerce, was launched in March 2019 with the goal of being able to provide support to a hundred companies in a period of 5 years.
To mark this important achievement, the CZFB and Leitat will organise an event to be attended by the companies incubated during these years, as well as the highest representatives of the participating institutions. The event, which will be held at the incubator located at the headquarters of CZFB on December 15, will be an opportunity for the media to contact the participating start-ups and get to know first-hand some of the success stories that have been developed during this time.
A revolutionary space
The main goal of the 3D Incubator is to promote the growth of these projects by creating a unique space dedicated to the incubation of start-ups, SMEs and micro-companies that are committed to working with 3D printing, within the framework of the new 4.0 economy.
The 3D Incubator fosters the business take-off of the incubated initiatives by providing companies access to 1000m2 of state-of-the-art facilities with the latest technology in 3D printing and post-processing, training stands, meeting rooms, co-working zones, and private offices. In addition, they are offered access to 3D production services, business consultancy, part testing, training and support for marketing and internationalisation. This project, promoted by the CZFB and Leitat, was carried out thanks to an investment of three million euros, 50% co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through the Pluri-regional Operational Programme for Spain 2014-2020, and it operates under Axis 3: Improving the competitiveness of SMEs, granted through the INCYDE Foundation.
Given the transversality of technology, the incubated initiatives come from a wide range of sectors, such as consumer goods, capital goods, health, mobility, consultancy, construction, information technology, chemicals, and logistics. Over the years, the companies have been able to realise their projects by printing various innovative products, such as dental prostheses, motorbikes, eyeglass frames, and even a revolutionary saxophone.
Pere Navarro, the Special Delegate of the State at CZFB, confirmed that “from the very beginning the Consortium aimed to get involved in the transformation of Industry 4.0. Having reached 100 incubated companies with this project, well ahead of schedule, is a true testimony of the fact that we are paving the way for the new economy”. Furthermore, the Delegate affirmed that “thanks to the joint action of CZFB, Leitat and the Chambers of Commerce, via the INCYDE Foundation, we are giving a clear example of cooperation between institutions to demonstrate the support for the development of the most cutting-edge network of companies in the market”.
For its part, Joan Parra, Leitat’s CEO and executive vice-president, pointed out that “the 3D Incubator's success not only marks the way forward, but also shows us the power of attraction that we can create by offering talented start-ups and entrepreneurs a cutting-edge environment with the latest technology and all the necessary resources. However, there is still a long way to go, as most of the incubated companies are in the early stages of adopting 3D printing technologies, and we are therefore very optimistic about the future of this initiative. He adds, “But if I had to highlight the most relevant aspect of the project, in my opinion, it would definitely be the cooperation with the CZFB and the possibility of creating value by adding synergies in a framework of shared vision and mutual trust”.
Multiple possibilities for technology 4.0
Within the general framework of the 4.0 economy, the comprehensive use of 3D Printing (3DP) technology in manufacturing processes is redefining production systems through product customisation, stock reduction, reduction of waste footprint and environmental impact, and consequently improving the competitiveness of local production systems.
The 3D Incubator 3D Incubator is the first and only incubator in Europe that provides incubated companies with a complete 3D production laboratory equipped with 4 state-of-the-art industrial 3D printers and 7 mini-printers. In addition, it also offers a post-processing laboratory with different equipment for cleaning, polishing and dyeing parts, as well as metrology and quality control equipment, laser engraving and design software. Thus, over these 3 years, the initiative has provided more than 3,000 services to the different incubated initiatives.
The 3D Incubator currently occupies an area of 1000 m2 in the building that also houses the corporate headquarters of CZFB, at the Zona Franca Industrial Estate, at the foot of the Ronda Litoral and connected by the underground station Parc Logístic to the underground’s Line 9 South. Located in the largest industrial area of the city of Barcelona, it has excellent connections to the airport, the Barcelona Port and the city's fairgrounds.