Fab Lab began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), and has become a collaborative and global network spanning 30 countries and 24 time zones.
A technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, Fab Labs provide a stimulus for local entrepreneurship. They are also platforms for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent.
“Fab Labs Nation was a Fab Lab national tour,” Monique Chartrand, Executive Director of Communautique, the open innovation hub responsible for the initiative, told MTLinTECH. “It was an initiative to equip Canada with a network of Fab Labs from coast to coast. So we mobilized co-sponsors and partners to create the conditions for a Fab Lab network in Canada.”
The promotional tour started May 1st and lasted for 90 days. Three people made a 19,000 km tour, reaching 27 cities and 46 different Fab Labs and makerspaces.
“It was important to us to see what is happening in Canada, because there aren’t that many Fab Labs on the map, but we realized there are a lot of makerspaces. They just don’t necessarily know the Fab Lab model. The first step we want to make in order to communicate and know about Fab Labs is to host the international meeting of Fab Labs.”
And after the demonstrated success of Fab Lab Nation, at Fab Lab #13 in Santiago, Chile this year, it was announced that Montreal will host Fab Lab #16 in the year 2020.
“It was a surprise because last year at Fab Lab #12 we showed our candidacy with a lot of support from the Prime Minister of Canada, the Prime Minister of Quebec, the Mayor of Montreal, a lot of partners and universities and all the Fab Labs in Quebec. We didn’t get it last year, but our candidacy was really appreciated. So this year we went to the Fab Lab #13 in Santiago, and there we presented the results of the Fab Lab Nation initiative. And they usually only announce the next two years. So they announced that next year will be in Toulouse, and the year after it will be in Cairo. But as a surprise they also announced for 2020, and they chose Montreal. And I think it was because they really appreciated the Fab Lab tour. It was really a nice surprise.”
It’s also nice to know so far in advance because hosting the international yearly Fab Lab event is a huge undertaking.
“It’s a five day conference, including a symposium, a huge Fab Lab for all of the Fab Labs around the world. We think we’re going to have people from more than 1,000 cities coming to Montreal. So probably 10,000 people or more. We will also be organizing what they call a startup festival. So we will have a five day conference and a two day festival open to the public. So it will be a very big event for Montreal.”