Food FABLAB is an industrial unit of shared use, with industrial licensing, to allow start up business projects, production of small series, experimental lots.
The FoodFablab is a service provided by TAGUSVALLEY wherein companies or individuals can test or manufacture food products. The main aspect that distinguishes FoodFabLab is that the industrial plant provided by Tagusvalley has an industrial license that allows companies to introduce the products manufactured in the FoofFabLab in the market. This service was created as a response to several inquiries from people that lost their jobs, during the economic crisis that hit Portugal between 2011 and 2015, and wanted to start their own food production projects. Meanwhile this concept has been developed and now includes not only the manufacture targeted for market entry but also for testing at pilot scale, supporting internal R&D processes of the users. This allows companies and individuals to significantly lower their initial investment and/or dedicate their plants exclusively to production as they don’t need to interrupt production for testing. As such, the FoodFabLab supports not only SME’s that are starting and testing ideas and concepts but also larger companies that need an industrial environment to test processes.
The main resources need are the technical staff responsible for maintaining the space (2 persons) and funding for maintenance, cleaning, energy and water. The amount of funding needed depends on the duration of the project and of the type of process and equipment that is used.
Evidence of success
Since its origin FoodFabLab was utilized by 25 different entities, from startups to multinational companies. The majority of the users have performed tests in the course of R&D processes (approximately 75%) while the remaining users have utilized the service to manufacture for market entry, mainly startups in the second scenario.
Balance between the utilization of the pilot plant by the external users and technical staff of Tagusvalley;Cost of maintaining the pilot plant infrastructure according to all the hygiene and food safety requisites;Challenge of sensitize the potential users of the advantages of using the FoodFabLab.
Potential for learning or transfer
There are ongoing, early stage, processes of transfer of this concept in Portugal. In our perspective one of the most important aspects to consider in such a transfer is the adaptation to the reality of the industry on the target region. This adaptation should be regarded from, at least, two different perspectives: the kind of food products that are more representative of the region; the scale and technological level of the industry. Also, there are some challenges regarding with the way a concept like this may comply with the food production specific legislation and, in our perspective, it is of extreme importance that the regulatory institutions responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of such legislation are included since the design of the project to prevent non conformities further ahead.
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