When most people think of Finland as a technology leader one name comes to mind: Nokia. However, the Scandinavian country’s spectrum of innovation spans much farther than telecommunications. For many years now Finland has been one of Europe’s best hot beds for software innovation, and some of its brightest companies have been in the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry.
And there is a reason for all of this. Finland–like Sweden–as a nation spends roughly 3.5 percent of its GDP on research and development (R&D). Most EU countries are shooting for just 3 percent. And they have been investing in education for decades, preparing vigorously to compete in high-end niche innovation markets as a pathway away from more cut-throat technology competition from Asia.
Since awarding CadFaster | Collaborate the “BEST of SHOW” award, in Mobility Category, at the 2012 AIA National Convention for architects in the US last year, we have been excited to talk more deeply with this Finnish software innovator.
Tuomas Holma is a vice president and heads their global marketing and sales. He is also the guy you may meet on the show floor when CadFaster is attending a conference and exhibit. Over the past few weeks I’ve had an opportunity to discuss with Tuomas many facets of CadFaster’s business, products and views on their industry .
Anthony Frausto-Robledo (AFR): Can you tell me a little bit about the origins of CadFaster the company, who are its main creators and what are their backgrounds?
Tuomas Holma (TH): CadFaster was established in 2009 but its founders have worked together for more than 10 years in the area of 3D visualization. The original idea was to apply advances made in gaming technology to the domain of CAD visualization, which was far from “real time” and “fast.”
The company wanted to make CAD visualization (user experience) faster. Thus CadFaster. There were some serious attempts to cooperate with CAD vendors in the very beginning, but without success. Therefore CadFaster focused on its own products.
AFR: Did CadFaster’s technology have some of its beginnings at the University level in Finland? Are there any connections to Academia?
TH: CadFaster core technology was developed in-house utilizing the latest available component technologies developed by open communities, universities and commercial companies. Our founders have some university connections and have received some government grants for R&D (research and development) in the past.
AFR: What target market did you guys start with CadFaster? Was it AEC or did you do the Solidworks (MCAD) market first?
TH: We started in MCAD market. Our first product was CadFaster | QuickStep, which has now been downloaded over 350,000 times since 2010, and we have over 50,000 active users for the free version. QuickStep is an ultra-fast viewer for STEP, IGES, DWG and DXF files.
We have largely neglected these users for the past three years due to our focus on the AEC market. That is about to change as we have just released a new product for our MCAD users. The new product is called MyCadbox.
AFR: So that’s a surprise. So tell me a little about that new offering.
TH: It combines the best features of CadFaster | QuickStep and CadFaster | Collaborate bringing in an important new innovation: ease of sharing. We noticed that sharing of 3D CAD models is really difficult whereas products like Dropbox and iCloud have made sharing and syncing of files very easy, automated.
We have now brought this ease of sharing to everyone who needs to access 3D CAD files. Files are also synched automatically between PC and iPad as in Dropbox or Apple iCloud. Our first release supports STEP format.
next page: More on Product Orientation (Screenshots)