Makerspaces

What is this collection of blueprints about?

We are using the term ‘makerspace’ broadly to cover all kinds of shared spaces where people work with physical materials: they may be FabLabs, community workshops, hackerspaces, biohackerspaces, artist-led spaces.

We interviewed many makerspaces, predominantly in Europe and Africa, as part of the MAKE project and used information from those interviews to build the first version of the Open Catalogue of Business Models, published in July 2023. The organisations who contributed to our research are listed on the Participants page.

The Blueprints listed below are all being used by makerspaces in different combinations – we found that virtually all of these spaces use a portfolio of different models.

Why does this context matter for Local Economies?

Makerspaces create a positive impact in the world, providing access to tools and knowledge; enabling people to learn skills, create things, experiment, and develop ideas; providing a space where small enterprises can build their products and their businesses without huge investment in dedicated equipment. Makespaces are important for mental health and for community building. They are vital for bringing the capabilities to make and repair things back into communities.

Why do we need information about business models for this context?

The need to gather and share information about how to make makerspaces financially sustainable is what started the whole LocalEconomies.org initiative. In spite of the huge benefits they offer, many of these spaces struggle to sustain themselves. We don’t believe that there is a ‘best’ business model for makerspaces – the contexts, aims, and communities of these spaces are so diverse as to make that impossible – but we do hope that by sharing information on what others are doing, it can act as a source of inspiration.

We are still interested to interview more makerspaces / hacklabs / FabLabs / shared studio spaces so please have a look at the Invitation to Contribute to our Research.

Creating shared access to a community and/or other assets (space and equipment)​
Processing end-of-life products or industrial waste so it can be returned to the value chain ​
Sharing knowledge and supporting others to develop skills, ranging from hands-on machine usage to soft skills like CV writing.
Supporting others to develop knowledge and skills with the focus on education and certification​