Opening the first FabLab in north Sweden

Project type
Self Iniciated
Year
2012
Duration
2 years
Credits
Brian Oko, Guido Hermans, Umeå University, Sliperiet

Project Summary

Me and Guido Hermans co-initiated a FabLab in Umeå, an open workshop where everyone can learn how to use digital fabrication and technology. The project started in 2012 and in 2014 was officially inaugurated. I stepped off of my responsibilities as a co-founder to focus on other projects.

Introduction

A FabLab (Fabrication Laboratory) is an open laboratory where people can learn how to make almost anything. That was the phrase coined by Neil Gershenfeld, MIT professor and founder of the 1st Fab Lab and the FabLab movement. After my degree, Guido, my co-founder, contacted me out of the blue. He had seen my project Amplify (insert link here) and asked me if I was interested to open a Fablab in Umeå. I'd say yes.

My role & personal goals

As a co-founder, I focused more on setting up the right culture, values of the FabLab, hiring process and co-organization of the FabLab.Personal goalsTo create a space open to people to learn about digital fabrication. Indirectly I wanted to learn what is necessary to start a "venture". And if there was a hunger for places that offered to teach about digital fabrication and local manufacturing.

The inception

A FabLab (Fabrication Laboratory) is an open laboratory where people can learn how to make almost anything. That was the phrase coined by Neil Gershenfeld, MIT professor and founder of the 1st Fab Lab and the FabLab movement.

After finishing my Interaction Design MA degree, Guido, my co-founder and then PHD student, contacted me out of the blue. He had seen my project Amplify (insert link here) and asked me if I was interested to open a Fablab in Umeå. I'd say yes.

Starting

I realised that even having been exposed to the FabLab after being sponsored by them during my degree project, I still didn't know much about it. Guido and I did research about other Fablabs around the world, and what was needed to run a FabLab.

The Fab wiki contained most of the information we needed to get started. The wiki covers principles of the Fablab, how to set up a Fablab and a list equipment among others.

Although most FabLabs follow the Fablab charter every FabLab is different. They have different equipment, different ways of running them (they can be public or private), different types of projects. That gave us room to customize it to our taste and principles.

Direction

We considered a handful of essential areas that we needed to focus. Firstly creating a compiling pitch for Sliperiet, a creative hub, research and innovation centre and event facility, then arranging the place with them, creating the inauguration agenda and activities, and finally, finding volunteers to run the FabLab.

Final Outcomes

In the summer of 2014, we inaugurated FabLab Umeå Sliperiet, the very first Fablab in the north of Sweden. Our first workshop consisted of laser cutting a wooden structure for a small drone. Find more about Fablab Umeå on their website or their Facebook page.
Because I was living in London, and I found difficult to juggle with my fulltime job and being involved in the FabLab, I decided to step out of my role as a cofounder.

Learnings

- Prepare your arguments and research
- Set the agenda to set the time of the meeting
- Create follow ups after each meeting to keep momentum

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