On 19-20 February 2019, the RCIA partners in Belgium facilitated a staff exchange to Barcelona and included a visit to the 3D Factory Incubator, the first European high-tech 3D Printing Incubator.
The initiative is led by the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona and Leitat Foundation, with the mission of offering services to businesses and entrepreneurs who have additive manufacturing as a core component in their business models. This high-tech incubator will help start-ups, freelance innovators and corporate entrepreneurial projects find the right environment and resources to land in the market and grow. The final goal of this initiative is to boost the competitiveness of the SMEs and entrepreneurial players.
The incubator is 50% co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INCYDE Foundation, via the Multiregional Operational Programme for Spain 2014- 2020 on improvement of SMEs competitiveness. The INCYDE Foundation participates in the ERDF Operational Programme for Smart Growth, through the the Chamber of Commerce of Spain as Intermediate Body, with the implementation of the High Technology Incubators project to promote innovation and the transfer of technology to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
In fall 2018, 43 3D printing initiatives responded to an open call, out of which 34 met the selection criteria. Around 20 companies have already signed their contracts and have started to move to the incubator premises. With an investment of 3 million euros, this initiative expects to host more than 100 business projects in the next five years.
Among the services offered are incubation spaces (co-working, private offices and virtual incubation) and advanced services for production, certification, testing, business consultancy and commercialisation.
The incubator wants to stimulate the productive transformation of SMEs towards Economy 4.0, where digitisation will not only result in a change in industrial production, but also in all service industries and therefore affect all areas of life. It also seeks to promote interregional cooperation through participation in European projects such as RCIA, fostering collaborations between public and private sector agents at both the national and international level.