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Concorci and Leitat build Catalonia advanced manufacturing hub for 3D printing

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The Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, Leitat and Fundación INCYDE have revealed the launch of a High-Tech 3D Incubator Project to be housed in the Barcelona Free Trade Zone and financed with European Regional Development Funds. The bid has been provisionally approved by the INCYDE Operations Selection Committee.

According to State Delegate in the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona Jordi Cornet, vice president of Leitat Joan Parra and managing director of Fundación INCYDE Javier Collado, this innovative project will create Catalonia’s first technology incubator for advanced manufacturing, additive and 3DP manufacturing.

The aim is to provide services to the scientific, technology and business sector for application in 3D/AM (additive manufacturing and new materials), a cross-cutting technology that will strengthen the competitiveness of business and entrepreneur community in Catalonia, improving efficiency and adding value to production from established sectors (health, biomedicine, automotive, metal mechanical industry, chemical industry and aerospace, among others), particularly for technology transfer with micro-SMEs and start-ups.

Investment in the first high technology 3D incubator

3D printing has appeared within the generalist framework of the 4.0 economy and Catalonia is a key region for the global AM industry’s evolution, with HP’s global 3D printing operations and several adopters based in or around Barcelona. 3D printing’s intensive use of the manufacturing system will redefine productive systems by making it possible to customize products, reduce stocks, our waste footprint and environmental impact and, therefore, increase the competitiveness of local production systems.

Since this technology is so innovative, large-scale investments in research and development are still necessary, as are incubators and transfer spaces. According to Delegate Jordi Cornet the incubator presented today will be “the first of four projects to be carried out by the Consorci this year with the intention of making Barcelona a benchmark for industry 4.0”. Joan Parra from Leitat added that “3D technology will be an essential part of industrial digitalization and is an area where Leitat is an international benchmark institution”. According to INCYDE managing director Javier Collado, “the incubator has the biggest budget and is the largest pilot project in the EU and may serve as a model for implementing in the continent”.

What is a high-technology incubator?

A high-tech incubator is a means of transferring knowledge and technology to companies through cooperation projects. Hence the need for actions to capture companies, entrepreneurs, stimulating actions, advertising and dissemination, to transfer knowledge and technology and improved business competitiveness. The incubator will offer direct advanced services and technical equipment to entrepreneurs through a unique team of professionals within a collaborative framework comprising technology agents, entrepreneurs and financial entities.

The incubator is part of a large-scale technology transfer project approved for the Fundación INCYDE by the European Commission: High Technology Incubators for Spain, with an ERDF investment of €32.5 million over six years to facilitate the innovation and technology transfer process to Spanish micro-SMEs and SMEs.

The infrastructure is intended to stimulate the productive transformation of small and medium sized companies towards the industry 4.0 so that, in alignment with Europe 2020 and Horizon 2020 Objectives, it will enhance interregional cooperation and collaboration among public sector agents and companies at a national and international level.

Catalonia advanced manufacturing hub

A high-technology incubator in the free-trade zones

The project will launch within a few months as part of the Consortium’s digital redefinition strategy and activities, fostering digital transformation of local companies, but with a mission to become an international benchmark.

The Consorci, owner of the incubator, will be responsible for getting the infrastructure up and running, acquiring basic equipment and technology for the center and starting up the service for their creation and commissioning. Leitat is a technology partner able to contribute technology and know-how in the sector, developing the incubator’s innovation strategy, international positioning, recruiting projects, and investment agents, large technological business groups and connections and exchanges with other incubators and international hubs in the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme.

With an initial investment of €2.9 million comprising ERDF funds and the Consorci’s contribution, the commissioning of the incubator represents an investment of €2 million in technology equipment and adapting 600 square meter facilities in the CZFB corporate headquarters. The incubator is expected to have an impact on some 900 companies through activities to stimulate and raise awareness.

The infrastructure will have an office for managing and receiving basic services, a design, production and post-processing area, a co-working area with flexible spaces, an office area aimed at companies needing more than 15 m2, modular meeting rooms, shared areas and a showroom space for additive manufacturing, an exhibition and learning area in the lower part of the CZEB corporate headquarters.

Starting up the incubator will entail publishing an offer to interested companies and entrepreneurs and acceptance of projects through the selection committee. Companies whose proposals are approved will be able to establish their development units in the incubator for a maximum of five years in which, through agreements with the CZFB, they will benefit from advantageous access to 3D/AM machines and materials.

The sum of three companies’ efforts

The Consorci is a public company which is entirely self-funded with rent from properties on the Free Zone industrial estate and property management. With a mission to drive the economy, the governing bodies of the organization include representatives from the main financial organizations in Barcelona, the Barcelona City Council and the Spanish Government.

Leitat is a Technological Institute, with a history that spans more than 100 years, with 300 employees, five headquarters in Terrassa, Barcelona, Vilanova del Camí, Valencia and Chile and a budget of more than €30 million. It collaborates with companies and other bodies to create economic, social and sustainable value through R&D+i projects and technology processes from innovation and creativity. Leitat is recognized by the Government of Catalonia (TECNIO) and by the Ministry of the Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

Fundación INCYDE is an institution created in 1999 by all Spain’s Chambers of Commerce, dedicated to fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship and consolidation of companies through innovation. Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chambers of Commerce, it fulfills its training and structural role in the digital co-working and Advanced Technology Incubator Network, that the foundation makes available to new entrepreneurs during their early years in business until they become established. To date, INCYDE has invested more than €250 million in Spain and other countries and has created Europe’s largest business incubator network, with 143 hubs working in a network and more than 3,500 companies incubated.


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