London falls behind international rivals in ‘digital make space’ - RSA

London falls behind international rivals in ‘digital make space’

Press release

  • Enterprise
  • Digital
  • Technology

An all-day event organised by the RSA in partnership with the Comino foundation and Somerset House is set to explore how London’s inventors and innovators might be provided with better opportunities for designing and making at a local level.

Event date: 19 June 2013 | 11:00 – 17:00 | 18:00 – 21:00

Venue: The Old Post Room, Somerset House, Entrance via Victoria Embankment, London WC2R 1LA

Unlike other major international cities, London currently has no publicly accessible digital fabrication workshops (otherwise known as ‘FabLabs’). Designed to provide businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors with access to state-of-the-art digital tools within a community setting, FabLabs are considered by many to be the future of design and manufacturing.

In order to prevent London falling further behind the likes of Barcelona (which has already established three digital fabrication workshops with a further nine in the pipeline), the RSA is exploring how it might provide a space through which designers can get their hands on manufacturing technology from precision laser cutters and 3D digital printers to electronic circuit fabrication equipment.

The event is taking place in the basement of Somerset House and will bring together a wide range of voices across London’s ‘making community’.

Commenting on the event, RSA Co-Head of Design Nat Hunter said:

“In a world of mass-produced products, modern technology has made it easier than ever for a single individual to create and distribute items that are customisable and unique without having middlemen like manufacturers. This growing shift will continue to affect London’s economy and will likely have big implications on large retailers. It’s essential that London doesn’t fall behind other international rivals and our leaders ensure the city gets quickly up to speed with these emerging trends.”

The evening will involve lectures by Professor Bill Lucas on blending thinking and making in education, Chris Wilkinson on the rise of the Fab Lab and the maker infrastructure, Laura James on the commercial and social value of a maker space, and Mike Thornton MP on the government creating the right conditions for making to flourish.

The Day: Our Speakers

11:20 The People’s Design Lab: Turning our frustration with waste into new solutions with Katy Anderson

Katy works on Zero Waste at Cwm Harry, a sustainability do-think tank in Wales. Trained in environmental management, Katy worked for an oil company for 5 years before working as a consultant in industrial pollution control and corporate social responsibility.

11:30 Open Source Hardware with Dr Jeremy Bennet

Dr Jeremy Bennett FRSA is Chief Executive of Embecosm, a company specialising in open source software for embedded systems and hardware modelling. He is an active member of the UK Open Source Hardware User Group (OSHUG). More details at www.embecosm.comand

12:00 Anything is possible? Inspiring the maker, creator & innovator in us all from the site of the world’s factory, with Hannah Fox

Hannah possesses 16 years of experience as a designer, project manager and business woman, working for a variety of clients from all sectors. As a member of the executive team establishing the new Derby Museums Trust, Hannah’s role is to develop the way forward for The Silk Mill - the site of the world’s first factory.

12:30 An introduction to The Great Recovery with Sophie Thomas

Sophie Thomas is co-director of design at the RSA. She is a founding director of thomas.matthews, the award winning UK pioneers in sustainable communication design established in 1998. She has been working in the fields of communication, sustainable design and material process for over 15 years working with global businesses and UK government organisations to define the role of designers within the discussion around waste streams, resource efficiency and circular economies.

13:00 A year of ‘Restarting’

with Ugo Vallauri

Ugo is an Italian researcher and critic of ICT for “development”. He started his career working with the Slow Food movement, then lived for four years in Kenya, working for Computer Aid International and researching the role of new communication technologies in agriculture..

13:30 Amy Mather

14:00 The history and future of 3D printing with Martin Stevens

Martin spent decades in engineering, of which the most recent decade has been focussed on 3D printing. Passionate about maximising youngsters’ education and their potential for ST(E)AM careers. CEO of it is 3D and also Chairman of LASER (London and South-East Region Manufacturing Alliance), which represents the interests of manufacturers throughout the region.

14:30 Manchester MadLab and and DIYBio with Asa Calow and Rachael Turner

Asa and Rachael are co-founders and director of Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab), Manchester’s home for ‘creatives, technologists, home biologists, hackers and idle dreamers.’ Established in 2009, MadLab is a place for people to ‘make and do interesting stuff.’ MadLab is housed in a 3000 square-foot former industrial revolution-era row of weaver’s cottage in the centre of the Northern Quarter. It is home to some 70 self-organised groups from Raspberry Pi to Manchester Girl Geeks, jewellery-making to graphic novels. This June, MadLab will pilot a new retail and workshop space, with support from the High Street Innovation Fund and Manchester City Council. The aim is to make technology as easy and accessible as buying a pair of socks – so a retail environment is perfect for demystifying Raspberry Pis and 3D printers.

15:00 The activities of the Makers’ Guild with Fiddian Warman

Fiddian is a passionate maker, creative technologist and founder of Soda Ltd, Makers’ Guild and Awesome London. He has 15 years’ experience in social innovation and leading teams in delivering innovative, elegant digital and physical strategies and solutions like the BAFTA-winning online construction environment:

15:30 When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Pro: How Austin’s Strong Sense of Place + Fierce Maker Ethos + Support for Cultural Creatives = Economic Development with Maggie Duval

Austin, Texas’ Maggie Duval is a futurist, technologist, educator, event developer and producer, community builder and liaison, and inveterate subverter of toxic consensus paradigms.

16:00 The Valley between Making & Manufacturing with Adrian McEwan

Adrian has been exploring the paths from maker to manufacturer for the past five years: as founder of Internet of Things consultancy MCQN Ltd., CTO of startup Good Night Lamp, and co-founder of makerspace DoES Liverpool.  He’s also condensed a lot of this learning into the book Designing the Internet of Things, due out this autumn.

16:30 Make Things Do Stuff: Making a generating of Digital Makers with Kieron Kirkland

Kieron is the development research manager at Nominet Trust with a particular focus on impact assessment and learning. Before joining the Trust, Kieron worked as a learning researcher for Futurelab where he developed a number of projects on educational innovation, games based learning and young people’s rights and entitlements.

Notes to editors

1. For more information contact RSA Head of Media Luke Robinson by email or call him on 020 7451 6893 / 07799 737 970.



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