Hands-on: how do fablabs contribute to foster the entrepreneurial culture

Put ideas into practice. This is the heart of entrepreneurship and also the main value that guides makerspaces, also known as fablabs.

Fablab is short for the term fabrication laboratory. Like the makerspaces, they are workshops or spaces that bring together a series of machines and technologies for manual or digital manufacture of virtually any type of object – depending on the equipment available.

According to FabLab Connect, there are currently over 1,800 fablabs worldwide, counting only the official laboratories, those that follow the Massachusetts Technology Institute (MIT) methodology. And they have been essential for strengthening local creative economies and entrepreneurial culture in the cities in which they are located.

Fablabs and makerspaces, entrepreneurship platforms

Think, model, test, fail, redraw, experiment. With agile and active methodologies, fablabs bring about a real change in the mindset of its users. Because they are immersed in fully practice-oriented environments, they come to develop their ideas in a real, non-theoretical way, reaching the final solution more quickly, in many cases.

In addition to optimizing modeling and design time, these spaces often reduce – a lot! – prototyping and testing costs. Molds and models formerly manufactured, for example by injection method, can now be easily made by a 3D printer at a very low production cost, since it uses only modeling software and filaments. Car manufacturers claim that replacing some processes with 3D printing can reduce production costs by up to 90%.

Thus, small entrepreneurs are able to make their business viable without the need for large initial investments, which strengthens the local and creative economy. “The real opportunity is to leverage the inventive power of the world to locally design and produce solutions to local problems,” says MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld in his TED talk.

Neil created the course “How to do almost anything” at MIT, which unpretentiously started what we call the “Maker Movement”. He says that his initial purpose was not to create a movement or a new way of thinking, but to offer a practical course. “(The course) was not intended to be provocative, it was only for some researchers,” he says. But the professor was surprised by how many researchers saw in training as an opportunity to integrate their skills and gain technical knowledge in order to create objects and solutions.

This is exactly the power of makerspaces for entrepreneurship: to offer a combination of techniques, technologies, knowledge, and networking that allow researchers, students, entrepreneurs and creative people to prototype solutions and shape their theories and hypotheses.

Power of communities in makerspaces

In addition to all the instrumental apparatus, another great asset of fablabs and makerspaces is the vocation to integrate people who develop true networks of creativity and innovation, something very important for entrepreneurship. “The makerspace is a physical space. But beyond that, it allows for a community of people to emerge that leverage their ideas and support each other. From the moment they take their projects and start doing them inside, people are driving innovation”, explains Carlos Ribeiro, founder of FAZ Makerspace, during a panel on fablabs and entrepreneurship at Campus Party.

The impression is shared by Edgar Andrade of FabLab Recife, who believes that these spaces have a responsibility to connect people in favor of transformation. “Startups must rethink the way they put themselves in the world, get out of that classic logic of the quest to become unicorns. We have a number of relevant issues in Brazil to explore that can be turned into business and help transform cities and people, ”he explains.

Aside from the potential for creating communities, Edgar believes that maker thinking is an important tool for transforming education. In this interview, he talks about his own relationship with school, the Maker Movement’s contributions to education and what he calls “encapsulated disruptive processes”, important for the transformation of any institution’s culture, including schools . Check it out!

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