Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure ES-2020-13/1478 – measures in Spain
, applies locally
|Time period||Temporary, 22 March 2020 – 10 April 2020|
Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/innovation
|Author||Alejandro Godino (UAB)|
|Measure added||26 November 2020 (updated 12 February 2021)|
The health emergency situation and the lack of resources caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus in March 2020 led to the collaboration of Protofy (Barcelona's innovative engineering startup) and Seat (Spanish automobile manufacturer) to produce respirators in a context of shortage during the worst moments of the health emergency. Others firms also collaborated in this initiative: Allianz (insurance company) financing Protofy activity and Dago (windshield wiper manufacturer) supplying engines for the respirators.
Engineers of Protofy started to design prototypes of low-cost respirators before its scarcity due the sudden impact of the pandemic in March. These prototypes had the initial advice of doctors from the Clínic and Germans Trias i Pujol hospitals in Barcelona to facilitate improvements and develop the clinical trial necessary for its approval. Once tested on the first patient, the company Doga supplied engines for Seat to develop series production of respirators in its main factory (Martorell). While the factory workforce was confined, about 150 employees from different areas of the plant voluntarily changed their tasks to work on the production of the final model of these respirators after testing 13 different prototypes.
About 600 units were manufactured and distributed to hospitals throughout Spain. As the idea was always to reach as many people as possible, all the models they made were posted on the internet from the beginning, which facilitated both the collaboration of many other people and companies interested in the initiative, as well as its international expansion. In this way, the initiative was able to help not only Spanish hospitals, but exporting the prototype to more than 60 countries around the world: India, Israel, South Africa, Switzerland, Nicaragua and the United States, among others.
Employees in standard employment
Sector specific set of companies
Companies providing essential services
|Applies to all citizens|
Company / Companies
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Form||Direct consultation outside a formal body||Not applicable|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
The general secretary of UGT in Catalonia and the president of the SEAT works council spoke with the Minister of Health to facilitate the homologation of the prototypes days after the Ministry blocked their production due to the lack of certificates.
CCOO and UGT unions valued this initiative very positively and even asked other industrial companies to similarly dedicate their technology, resources and workforces to combat the health emergency. UGT even dialogued with the Ministry of Health to facilitate its development. In any case, the CCOO and UGT unions denounced that the stoppage of respirators production and return of the workforce to normal production was unilaterally decided by SEAT.
|Economic area||Sector (NACE level 2)|
|C - Manufacturing||C29 Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers|
This case is not occupation-specific.
Eurofound (2020), SEAT: Temporary conversion to produce respirators, measure ES-2020-13/1478 (measures in Spain), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/ES-2020-13_1478.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.