Few Russian startups experience the emotions that the winner of the Startup Village competition feels, and there have only been two and a half dozen of these over the eight years of the conference’s existence. However, a two-time victory in the startup competition is even rarer and Evgeny Matveev, the CEO of the Perm-based company F2 Innovations, achieved this on 22 May.
Evgeny celebrated the victory in the industrial track of the startup competition Startup Village Livestream’20, taking first place and the prize money of 3 million rubles for the project, “F2 Composite - 3D printing with high-strength composite materials.”
Two years ago, he came first in the ideas competition at the Startup Village-2018 conference, having presented to a jury the team’s signature development, FDM 3D-printing technology. It allows the user to greatly increase printing speed using an innovative method of heating the nozzle as well as algorithms developed to control the heating and printing processes.
“The first victory was more striking, sweeter and memorable. Perhaps the reason is that the conference took place offline and the atmosphere of making a presentation in front of a large audience had an effect. It could be because the high result at the Startup Village-2018 competition was our first major victory. Back then, the team had just been formed and we didn’t have an office or any investments,” Evgeny Matveev told Sk.ru. However, this did not stop him from announcing an ambitious mission from the Startup Village podium: “We are creating the future of 3D-printing.” This motto is now posted on the F2 Innovation website.
For the past two years, the company and its CEO have matured (although the average age of F2 Innovations employees still does not exceed 30) and have created a success story. F2 Innovations joined the ranks of the Skolkovo Foundation residents at the beginning of 2020 when it won first place during the regional stage of the Open Innovations Startup Tour, the largest event seeking out high-potential startups in Russia and the CIS.
During the Startup Village Livestream’20 competition, Evgeny Matveev presented the project titled “F2 Composite,” a 3D-printing technology that utilizes high-strength thermoplastic composites based on continuous carbon fiber. Solid carbon fiber printing is in high demand in aircraft manufacturing, car manufacturing and other areas. Parts that are manufactured in this way can be sturdier and lighter than aviation aluminium; but most importantly, they will have the physical and mechanical properties to withstand hostile environments and temperature loads, which are required by the customer. “We are completing printers for solid-fiber printing and will put the finished product on the market next year,” Mr. Matveev hopes.
The decision to produce their own printers, as is clear from his explanation, was out of necessity. “We understood that it’s impossible to unlock the full potential of complex technology with basic 3D-printer models. Their development took about a year. We offer our customers both printers and our own composite materials.” The result of the jury vote at the Startup Village Livestream’20 competition shows that that calculation turned out to be correct.
“Victory this year helped psychologically, and showed that we are moving in the right direction in accordance with market trends and the technological needs of society. With the prize money we can buy production equipment, which prior to the win we were going to get on credit or pay for in instalments,” said the company CEO.
During the competition final, he spoke with members of the jury by video call from the company office in Perm. In the background stood a 3D-printer developed by F2 Innovations. Upon being asked what the most recent thing printed on the device was, Evgeny Matveev answered that it was a part for another 3D-printer, which quickly gave rise to jokes about the rise of machines that can reproduce themselves.
During the interview, the company CEO made the point that the F2 Innovations team began working remotely after the coronavirus outbreak. The company has a number of state contracts that it needs to fulfil, so it received permission from the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Perm Krai to work at the company office.
In spite of the company’s young age, its customers include aerospace and chemical companies, universities, medical organizations (you can print high-strength plastic prosthetics and implants on a 3D-printer), device makers, mining and oil & gas companies.
F2 Innovations is working on developments in the field of industrial 3D-printing and the production of 3D-printers. “Our printers are designed for professional use. They differ from amateur ones, firstly in the area of printing, and secondly in the materials that are used. Our devices are designed to work with expensive high-temperature engineering plastic, which can’t be used with ordinary 3D-printers.”
As part of its development, the Perm startup is also aiming at foreign markets. In the words of the company CEO, “We are preparing for European and American certification in order to sell our equipment there and have already found partners in the US.”
Evgeny Matveev hopes to get certification with the help of the Skolkovo Foundation. The developers have already used other services offered by the Foundation and were satisfied.
F2 Innovations became a Skolkovo resident in 2019. There are about a dozen and a half Skolkovo residents in Perm and they are mainly IT companies. F2 Innovations is one of the few “hardware” residents in the region. “To a large extent, we are graduates of the same university, the Perm National Research Polytechnic University, and also took part in the Bolshaya Razvedka competition. We all know each other and hang out together. This is one big technological hangout.”