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People working in a Ruckus, a makerspace in Indianapolis

Ruckus, a makerspace in Indianapolis was developed to address industrial blight. Key components of a co-working space includes high speed internet, comfy chairs, and work tables, as well as woodworking, metalworking, laser-cutting, printing, and sewing equipment

“If you look at history, innovation doesn't come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.” – Steven Johnson, author, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.

As the sharing economy takes hold globally one of the more tangible elements of this socio-economic ecosystem over the last decade is the emergence of shared workspaces where people can connect, collaborate and create.

Calgary Economic Development has released a report How Makerspaces Support Innovative Urban Economies that explains the potential benefits of communal manufacturing and innovation spaces that provide members access to expensive high-tech equipment, such as metal lathes and 3D printers, in a collaborative environment.

Shared workspaces combine affordable fees with a welcoming environment to learn and create.  In addition to informal collaboration, makerspaces will host structured learning opportunities such as classes or workshops. 

The establishment of innovation hubs– such as a makerspace or Resource YYC – as a convergence point for people to collaborate and promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is a key element of Building on our Energy, the 10-year Economic Strategy for Calgary.

With more consumers seeking products customized to individual preferences, makerspaces are helping large and small manufacturers be more nimble, creative and efficient as members can design, build, and test prototypes of marketable products in an industrial setting. They provide an environment for affordable innovation, collaboration and small-business growth while reinvigorating the mechanical arts and exposing people to modern, technically sophisticated tools used in today’s manufacturing industries.

For Calgary, makerspaces can assist with the retention of workers and help people develop new skills in a rapidly changing economy.

The “maker movement” started in the tech-focused Bay Area of Northern California in 2006 with the initial Maker Faire. The movement has now attracted millions of engineers, makers, hobbyists, entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide fueling what is being called the next Industrial Revolution.

There are now approximately 1,400 active or planned makerspaces worldwide.

Increased demand for facilities is reflected in the increasing popularity of Maker Faires, where people showcase their skills. The first Maker Faire attracted 22,000 people but they now attract more than 500,000 attendees every year around the world. The Calgary Mini Maker Faire attracted 700 in 2012 and grew to 4,300 in 2015. The next Maker Faire event in Calgary is the Mini Maker Faire, August 20-21, 2016.

Here is the full makerspace report.


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