Back in the late 1990’s as we began to launch into the Age of Information I wondered if information overload would kick in and shift us towards the Creative Age to help us process, curate, visualize and package all this information in other RIGHT BRAIN formats. And are we not seeing this now (ohhhhh, 14 years later, :-P) with the emergence of DESIGN along with data visualization and gamification crossing over into everything?
Following ‘developing countries’, I then wondered if the Creative Age, along with the rise of the now ’emerging markets’ would shift us back from building for a novelty based virtual world to building for a needs based real world thus resulting in the Age of Micro Manufacturing, where everything would be made to order (locally/regionally) and produced in small volume on a needs basis.
In the U.S. this emerging group of creative-tech inventor types who are the ‘early adopters’ and ‘pioneers’ playing in this micro ecosystem has been affectionately branded ‘Makers’…and damn it, they are so gosh darn special to us and the renaissance of manufacturing in the U.S. that we even gave them their own ‘festival‘!
And maybe in the future we would see the ‘creators’ of these products receive a royalty/licensing fee (for sustainability and intellectual property) every time their product gets resold in the marketplace which would be tracked via an RFID (Radio-frequency identification) tag.
So imagine my pure and sheer delight when I discovered Macarena (Maca) Pola, this insanely cool industrial design savvy tech-creative Chilean chic who had recently returned from China after 2 years abroad. She traveled there to learn all about the world of manufacturing and she certainly accomplished that to say the least!
She came back totally versed not only on the culture of doing business in China but also understood the concept of trends such as 3D printing (SEE: MAKERBOT Thing-o-Matic 3D) and saw the vision and power of Micro Manufacturing, especially in terms of helping Chile to learn and enter the process of finishing products (even if in small scale) or perhaps producing specialty parts for a product i.e. tankless water heaters.
Shortly after, that led her to launch her first company, Micrologica Factory, which is a division of MICROLOGICA INNOVACIÓN S.A., founded by her legendary, pioneering and entrepreneurial father, Mariano Pola. Micrologica Factory supports inventors/artisans/hard core makers, companies, universities and most anyone who wants to ‘build something’ in the real world, by offering a unique model of product development and helps to manage the complete cycle of its fabrication and replication. (I was so lucky to meet her pre-beta entrepreneurship mode)!
Meanwhile, somewhere in Santa’s Workshop for grown up kids aka his hard core maker workshop, Argentinan, Tiburcio de la Carcova (founder of the popular Latin America crowdfunding site IdeaMe, among other things), was thinking about the building of a micro manufacturing ecosystem starting within Chile and ultimately scaling it to other markets. And in the ideation process Tiburcio’s and Maca’s respective dreams met somewhere in between.
The result of these two mad scientists minds wired together was ‘Maker Space’ (Santiago) which brings together hands-on ‘education’ and real time rapid prototyping by leveraging the power of micro manufacturing integrated with an open and social innovation (community) component. Try saying that three times fast :-P
In other words, Maker Space is the ‘off the chain’ place for creatives who are totally down with making cool and random things (in the physical world) with cool and random people. That’s what’s up and indeed the future of innovation!
Open Innovation refers to the concept of ‘Collective Intelligence’, meaning different types of people share and exchange ideas, information and experiences in an effort to produce the most optimal end product developed ideally in the most efficient way.
And Social Innovation refers to the concept of building strategies and processes to solve issues geared to raise the quality of life with certain segments of the population (such as the work of Latin America’s largest open and social innovation platform, Chilean founded Techolab) or as we see it trending today and how it is used in the concept of Maker Space Santiago – the intersection of innovation across social platforms and collaborative communities.
What is the ‘Maker Space’ (Santiago)?
It is a center for prototyping and manufacturing ideas.
But understand its not just any center.
It’s a beautifully designed mixed use work space (that very much reminds me of my house back in Washington, DC) with its retro-modern look, clean lines and natural wood rafters that give it an open, yet warm feeling. A geeks wet dream, it has hidden surprises throughout, including vintage pinball machines and free beer, brewed on site. Dig it!
Sidebar: As 2013 is the proposed Year of Innovation in Chile, investment in smartly designed environments with detail given to lighting choices, colors and building materials should be considered a necessity and not a luxury in terms of human capital development and inspiring creativity and innovation.
This open and interdisciplinary place unites designers, inventors, programmers and artists in a common space to explore and develop ideas and a truly innovative project. There is also the possibility of co-creating projects among your peers.
What kinds of tools are available?
At the Maker Space, developers, creatives and inventors who want to geek out in the physical world will have access to the latest tools, machinery and top level mentoring that are generally available only to large companies or universities. Members have access to cutting Laser, Plasma, 3D printers and other prototyping tools. Besides all the supplies needed to create a prototype it can eventually help programs for mass manufacture. Here’s a list of some of the fun things you can do and play with at the Maker Space.
- 3D Printing and Scanning
- Laser Cutting
- CNC Router
- Complete electronics workshop (sources, oscilloscopes, etc.)
- Robotics kits
- Arduino and all its components
- And did I say they have free home brewed beer produced on site…jejeje!
Nerf Sentry Turret by Atakama Labs
Why else is ‘Maker Space’ uber cool?
Within the ‘Maker Space’ there is also a ‘living space’ that functions as a collaborative community learning center where its members give workshops and presentations to transfer their knowledge to their peers. Weekly workshops are organized, activities and courses taught by local personalities and monthly activities with international personalities.
Additionally, within the space there exists a program to accelerate product development. Selected projects receive special mentoring and funding to realize them.
Meet your fearless leaders at ‘Maker Space’!
Inspired by the work of her father, Mariano Pola, who has been an entrepreneur and innovator in Chile for over 25 years, Macarena decided to launch an innovative company of her own. Her father committed a lot of his adult life working towards the development of technology in Chile and was one of the first companies in Chile to focus on technology from a design perspective and at the intersection of manufacturing. In the true spirit of innovation, Macarena decided to carry the vision one step further. Leveraging her industrial design background and her manufacturing industry insights, she launched Micrologica Factory.
Their team can consult on how to design your product as well as where you should manufacture it. They can also help fabricate small scale prototypes and help make tweaks before a mass replication order is sent abroad. Macarena teaches Industrial Design at Universidad Diego Portales.
Besides having a funny name that is more suited to an opera singer or performer in Cirque de Soleil, Tiburcio de la Carcova is also a serial entrepreneur ‘overachiever’. Originally from Argentina, he moved to Chile in 2003 to found Wanako Games, which Vivendi acquired by Activision in 2006. However, to date, they remain a force to be reckoned with in the world of video game development in Latin America
In 2009 he left to found Atakama Labs (Wanako), a social gaming company, which was recently acquired by DeNA out of Japan. Tiburcio is a hardcore maker that was a lonely and helpless soul in search of a his long lost Maker Love, when at the recommendation of his marriage counselor, he decided to found the Maker Space as his living therapy.
But let it be known, Tiburcio truly has a generous heart and big dreams for his fellow Latin American visionaries….as he is also one of the founding members of idea.me, LatAm’s leading crowd funding platform (and presumably the de facto home for boostrapping makers!!!)
Are you a maker/inventor, creative or entrepreneur who needs help in the design or manufacturing process of a physical product, i.e. prototyping an invention or manufacturing a robotic arm? Then reach out to the team at Maker Space.
They also have limited space available for design and creative related entrepreneurs and makers who want to work or host events in their b-e-a-ooo-t-full loft studio space. Please contact them directly for more information.
The MakerSpace is located at Italia 850 (off Francisco Bilbao, within walking distance to Parque Bustamante Metro) and is open for events, school field trips and workshops (teaching or learning).