Planet-friendly straws, eco wine production, smart envelopes, knitted shoes…
Meet the 9 teams selected for Better Factory, an EU-funded project, disrupting factory innovation.

  • Better Factory aims to help manufacturing SMEs to become more competitive globally, by using art and technology expertise to create new and personalized products
  • The 16-month programme boosts each team (consisting of a manufacturing SME, an artist, and a technology provider) with up to EUR 200,000 in funding and technical support
  • The first round of 8 teams have already successfully innovated process like centuries-old Parma ham production, zero waste metal production, and a new circular material for young tree growth
  • The second round of teams will be working on numerous innovations, from a smart digitized envelope to eco-friendly diving fins, to sustainable durable drinking straws

What is the Better Factory project?

Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley is a partner of the Better Factory project, funded under the European Commission H2020 programme, that brings together key actors in the European technology, art, and innovation landscape. It aims to help European manufacturers become more competitive in the global market by providing up to EUR 200,000 equity-free funding to develop and deploy collaborative intra-factory experiments.

The goal of the experiments is to lead a diversification of the Manufacturing SMEs & Mid-caps product portfolio. Manufacturing Companies will discover new business models and digitize their factories to match the production of new or personalized products, thanks to the collaboration with Artists and Technology Suppliers during the lifetime of the Better Factory project and beyond.

Collaborations between Manufacturing Companies, Artists, and Tech Suppliers can take on many forms and deliver a wide variety of outcomes.  At a technical level, the focus will be to minimize the impact on production costs, and to create more value by reducing waste, energy, and other production resources; optimizing intra-factory logistics; using robots to support workers; production pre-planning and simulation.

Prioritized sectors are plastic and rubber, furniture and wood, food and agriculture, construction, metal and machinery, and textile and leather.

Winners of the Better Factory project!

Through these 16-month experiments, conventional factories will be transformed into lean-agile production facilities, capable of manufacturing new and personalized products along with existing ones.

The first round of 8 teams came from 12 European countries, and have successfully innovated processes like centuries-old Parma ham production, tested human-robot coworking to create zero waste metal production, and pushed the boundaries of a new circular material Stone Paper for young tree protection.

The Second Open Call for applicants saw 56 applications from teams of one manufacturing SME, one artist, and one technology provider. After an initial sifting process, 19 of these teams were invited to pitch during a Jury Day with independent expert judges, and finally, 9 top teams were selected to go through to participate in the project.

During the second open call, Poland was the leading country. Among the applicants were five companies from Poland – members of Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley. But only one of them won the competition – Plast Farb company as part of the “SMART ENVELOPE – digital and eco-friendly envelopes”! This project will develop a new line of eco-friendly postal products with digital features, enhancing customer experience and reducing environmental impact, optimizing production efficiency, and monitoring energy consumption and production waste.

The 9 teams chosen to take part in the second round of Better Factory will explore new markets using digital tools, test and develop new lean-agile production technologies, make deals through the Robotics and Automation MarketPlace (RAMP), access training to re-skill staff, receive business support and mentoring, and get up to 200,000 EUR of equity-free funding.

So who are the teams in question, and what manufacturing challenges are they innovating and solving?

1. OCCE The 100% Recyclable Office Chair Reimagining the traditional office chair with a focus on 100% recyclability, reduced emissions, and minimized production costs.

2. Internet of Art and Wine Sustainable Wine Production with AR and Robotics Optimising Wine Production with Smart Corks, Eco-Packaging, Biomaterials, E-Labelling, and Augmented Reality.

3. STARIOT – Sustainable straws, greener future Revolutionizing the straw market with durable, resistant and socially responsible products.

4. SHOES IN CIRCLE Your footprint, reduced Sustainable knitted shoes, combined with IoT and robotics to reduce waste

5. MICOCRAFT Bio-Inspired Glue for Sustainably Manufactured Products A biobased material, using a natural glue, replaces synthetic materials, for a sustainable manufacturing process for the construction industry.

6. SMARTVIEW – Factory floor collaboration at your fingertips Enhancing cross-factory collaboration and communication for improved productivity, sustainability, and worker well-being.

7. SMART ENVELOPE – Digitalised and eco-friendly envelopes A new line of sustainable and digital postal products, designed to enhance customer experience and environmental responsibility

8. 3 DART DESIGN – Transforming metal waste into opportunity – Identifying new applications and markets for products made from overused powder from medical implants.

9. ReFINE – Dive deeper with less impact The future of sustainable F1 scuba diving fins, with an optimized design and restored manufacturing processes.

Interested in the innovations these teams are working on? Follow their progress over the next few months by following Better Factory on Twitter and LinkedIn, signing up for the newsletter, and also meeting the team at numerous European events announced on our blog.