Building a Fab City Innovation Center in a Growing Network of FabLabs

Oakland Fab City needs a space to hold its growing program activities. Elevator Works is leading the effort to create a Fab City Innovation Center. to serve Oaklanders and global partners working in education, innovation, industry, and government.

Proliferation of Oakland FabLabs

New FabLabs emerge in the Oakland Fab City system in two ways:

  1. recruiting and facilitating existing makerspaces to join the FabLab network,

  2. building new facilities in places where our community members can find inspiration, skill building, equipment, space and support to realize their ideas.

Each FabLab in the Fab City network requires leadership and ownership by local community members to truly serve their members. We need facilities to share data, help members traverse other nodes and partners in our network, host events and projects. Each facility is specialized to meet the needs of its community, and each has limits on its local capacity.

Staff and members of these facilities will find the support they need at the Fab City Innovation Center.

A hub for local FabLabs and their members

FabLabs need skilled staff, standardized operations, maintenance and support for their equipment. They need to acquire and process raw materials. They need to hold at least part-time access for community members, and serve as an engagement point which is welcoming and supportive for everyone, from first time visitors though project and company leaders.

FabLab members need access to increasingly specialized equipment, facilities, and staff as they proceed to make their

Incubating Modern & Innovative Local Manufacturing

To get to Oakland 2054, we will need a tremendous blossoming of new ideas. Oakland already has optimum conditions for these to emerge: a strong ‘hustle’ culture, a DIY spirit, tremendous creativity and resourcefulness, highly specialized skills in various areas, an appetite for investment and risk, and a rich local economy in which to root new enterprise.

We know that innovations produced by Fab City mission-aligned founders and partners will change our city and the world we live in. Innovations emerging from Oakland and the Bay Area have already shown us this sort of world-changing is possible, Because of the nature of our long-term goals, we know that we will see innovation in both technical and social components of the companies that form in a supportive Fab City environment.

Virtual platforms don’t spark the same kind of unexpected creativity and partnerships that happen when interesting cross-sections of our community come together with a common goal, in a single space. The Fab City Innovation Center is that space.

Show, tell, inspire, and drive

Fab City vision becomes tangible in our Innovation Center. When activities and people are dispersed, their visibility and capacity to inspire is limited. A place-based platform to show Oakland and the world the great work we are accomplishing increases momentum and impact.

Building this facility will require creative solutions, and great partners. There are several components of the center which will produce revenue and profit, but others which might for some time require external support and subsidy. We have some examples which can help us design a center which is funded by individual and institutional memberships, and hosts services for various customers.

The Fab City Innovation Center will hold events, accommodate residencies and longer-term projects, create space for mission-aligned organizations and companies, and incubate emerging manufacturing companies.

We’re building it because Fab City needs it. We’ve raised some funding for an initial study, which will identify the best local partners and sites to root the facility and help it thrive. We’ll be making critical decisions over the next several months about where to focus these efforts.

We need your participation and help. Send us a note if you’re a prospective tenant, landlord, partner in industry, education, or think you’ve got something to contribute to this project. We’d love to hear from you.