Startups make headway in high-tech workshop and Makerspace

21 July 2023

It is a challenge for starting entrepreneurs to make prototypes of their idea without financial resources. Entrepreneurial stronghold PLNT therefore created a high-tech workplace where entrepreneurs can fully experiment. The Rabo Impact Fund provided 8,800 euros for the Leiden initiative.

Would you like to 3D print a part of your prototype? That is what happened nowadays for the startups in the PLNT community. They just come by the Makerspace, a technical workshop in the same building. “This means that entrepreneurs can quickly move forward with their idea,” says Rui Horstink, high-tech instrument maker and manager of the Makerspace. “If you ask an external party to make a prototype, it is expensive and you often have to wait weeks for the result. Your company has been standing still all this time and many starters cannot afford that.”

One workshop together

The PLNT Community consists of more than sixty organisations, start-ups and self-employed workers, which focus on developing innovative and disruptive technologies and services. A year and a half ago, the tech entrepreneurs expressed the wish to create a joint workplace in the building. “By doing this together, the costs are lower for them,” says Horstink. The entrepreneurs put their question to the Leiden Instrument Makers School (LiS) and resulted with Horstink. “I already knew PLNT from an earlier internship and had just graduated. As an independent entrepreneur, I then set up the workshop. Now I think along with the entrepreneurs about their social and technical innovations and then make parts or complete prototypes for them.”

Machine additions

A few essential machines and tools were needed to set up the Makerspace, such as a milling machine and a lathe. “The latter is a metalworking machine that you can use to make cylindrical parts, for example,” Horstink explains. “With those two machines, and the 3D printers, we already make ninety percent of all products. Thanks to the donation from Rabobank, we were able to make these purchases much faster.” The Makerspace bought the machines second-hand, as did most of the other tools and materials.

“The Makerspace really makes an impact in the startup ecosystem,” says Rabobank SME advisor Nona Speur. “I am pleased that we can take their innovations further with the donation from the Impact Fund. Hopefully the Makerspace story will inspire other entrepreneurs to submit an application, because together we will get further!”

Social innovations

The products developed by the entrepreneurs of PLNT are diverse. From smart sensors for glass and horticulture, to a special 3D printer for customized medicines, with the desired dose of the active substance. This diversity also offers many interesting opportunities for students to do an internship. “In addition, we can inspire them for their own future inventions. They also find a wealth of knowledge about entrepreneurship here.”

More information

More information about the Rabo Impact Fund or submit an application? Look up

For more information about the PLNT Makerspace, please contact Rui Horstink at:

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