3D design, engineering, and entertainment software provider, Autodesk, Inc. today announced its plans to invest up to $100 million into 3D printing startups and researchers over the coming years via its investment arm Spark Investment Fund. According to a media release distributed today, the purpose of the investment will be to make 3D printing more accessible and speed up the pace of innovation in the 3D printing industry.
By 2018, the 3D printing industry is expected to grow to nearly USD$16 billion and large companies are already recognising the market potential. Autodesk’s announcement comes on the heels of Hewlett-Packard Co’s revelation of its plans to introduce “ground-breaking” 3D printing technology that can print 10 times faster at considerably less expense than current products – though the product will likely be launched in 2016.
Earlier this year, Autodesk announced the launch of Spark, a software platform for 3D printing that will connect digital information to 3D printers “in a new way”. Spark will connect to any hardware and be materials agnostic, and the company invites the entire 3D printing community to collaborate, build and improve the platform, its associated Ember 3D printer and materials. Given this information, it makes sense that the company is actively on the lookout for new investment opportunities in the 3D printing space that will help improve its own solutions.
“The days of taking a closed, top-down approach to innovating for additive manufacturing are behind us. Numerous industries recognise the value of tapping into entrepreneurs or startups with better ideas and approaches, and 3D printing is no exception,” said Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Consumer Products and 3D Printing, at Autodesk.
“The Spark Investment Fund will empower innovators to improve 3D printing, and to help us unlock the tremendous promise of this technology.”
Companies and individuals developing hardware, software, materials, marketplaces and maker spaces are being called upon to apply to become a part of Spark Investment Fund’s investment portfolio. In addition to the financial investment, recipients will become part of the Spark partner program and have access to marketing and other developer services available to Spark partners.
It should be noted that the company has attached a disclaimer to its announcement, saying that some of their statements regarding Autodesk’s investment activities involve risk and uncertainties – especially in relation to the actuality of the $100 million investment, building market acceptance for 3D printing, and the performance of Spark which may not be as anticipated. Or simply put, the announcement has been made quite early, and circumstances can change so there’s no guarantee what will happen.
Applications can be made via spark.autodesk.com/fund.
Image: Shaan Hurley, CTO and John Walker, Founder, Autodesk. Source: Flickr.