National FabLabs Networks are organizing themselves, but also feel the need for a representation on a european level.
In Toulouse European fablabs gathered at the FAB14 to form a European Makerspace Cooperation and they agreed on the following outstanding issues in the European maker/fablab ecosystem:
- The number of Fablabs in Europe has increased greatly in the last decade. Right now, most big cities in Europe have one or more spaces devoted to digital fabrication and new technologies.
- Fablabs work towards democratizing access to technology by offering access to shared infrastructures, digital fabrication machines and communities of practice around digital fabrication.
- Fablab resources and capabilities are different across the network. Larger Fablabs have been able to access to European projects and funding, while most of the smaller Fablabs struggle to grow and be sustainable while offering value to local communities.
- This growing inequality is compounded as bigger labs can expand based on former projects to attract more funding, while smaller labs have it more difficult based on inexperience and more precarious economic situation.
- By collaborating with European bodies on a larger scale, all spaces on the network could improve and strengthen their programs to serve as a ledger for the future of European innovation and manufacturing ecosystem.
So they propose the following goals to remediate them:
- To organize themselves to push on an European level for new programs supported by European Commision and tailored to Fabab/maker ecosystem.
- To base this organization on existing regional networks and bodies, so they can be representative of the rich variety of Europe.
- To operate based on the principles of democracy, transparency and solidarity among spaces.
- To reduce inequality on an European level, creating new opportunities for all kinds of spaces and people.
- To promote inclusion and diversity, focusing on lifelong learning, (social) innovation and equitable access to all spaces for everyone in Europe.
This mailing list aims to gather ideas and projects around this topic:
It is early, but the same happened two years ago when we started the Réseau Français des Fablabs.
Outside the FAB14 conference center was only one vehicle permitted: the Belgian STEAMachine