Makerspaces: Where play and innovation lead to business-viable products

Makerspaces: Where play and innovation lead to business-viable products 

By: Abu Dhabi SME Hub
Design

Makerspaces foster a culture of curiosity and creativity, encouraging participants to play with a variety of technologies and experiment with craft making.

What is a makerspace?

For entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and engineers in need of high-tech facilities and equipment to design new products, a makerspace is the place to be. 

The exact term makerspace often varies in use and definition, with the name interchangeable in some instances with hackerspace. The term Fab Lab (fabrication lab) is sometimes used as well, but those spaces put more emphasis on the facilities themselves and less on the community aspect. 

In many ways, a makerspace is similar to coworking spaces, such as those by WeWork and Regus, which have been proliferating in recent years. Entrepreneurs and creators are provided access to a common space and resources made available for them.

The difference, however, is in the high-tech and specialized facilities and tools available to their members, in addition to the training and educational services offered to members to help them operate and optimize their usage of on-site amenities.  

Makerspaces offer registered users an opportunity to explore interests through hands-on, creative projects. They foster a culture of curiosity and creativity, encouraging participants to play with a variety of technologies and experiment with craft making.

 

What to expect

At a makerspace, you can expect to find 3D printers, vinyl cutters, pressure chambers, milling machines, workstations with design software access, and much more. 

You can usually find this information on a makerspace’s own website, so make sure to thoroughly go through their equipment lists to ensure they have everything you will need. 

These spaces are often divided into specialized rooms and sections, as in the example below from Abu Dhabi-based Makerspace Al Zeina.

Image: Makerspace Al Zeina

Many makerspaces also actively support entrepreneurs with a promising product in securing a Proof of Concept and launching their business, acting as incubators or accelerators. 

These spaces allow for great collaboration opportunities. On-site classes and training sessions also offer a chance to learn, network, and grow.

In recent years, makerspaces have also grown to host school students, instilling a sense of innovation in younger generations from an early age.  

So, if you have an exciting idea or product you’d like to bring to life, sign up to your nearest makerspace and start creating! 

What can you find and use in a makerspace?

Makerspaces provide access to a wide range of professional equipment and software, with comprehensive instruction and expert staff to ensure users have a safe and productive experience.

Some makerspace tools and equipment you can use:

Makerspace members need to pass a Safety and Basic Use (SBU) test to reserve and use equipment for projects. 

If you’re based in Abu Dhabi and are looking to create new products or experiment with different tools, check out Makerspace Al Zeina’s full list of equipment.

 

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Makerspace Al Zeina to support inventors in designing prototypes of their inventions.

Interested individuals and entities (whether patent holders and inventors, startup entrepreneurs, established companies/business owners, or educational institutions) can benefit from discounted access to Al Zeina's Makerspace by contacting COAD's Takamul program: Takamul@ded.abudhabi.ae

 

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