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  • Holger Dielenberg

Melbourne City Council investigates Makerspaces

The start of 2015 has literally exploded as interest for studios and casual memberships begin pouring in! What a way to start the year. We already have nine studios full and only three left for rent. The workshop is being used every day as makers use their skills to build their designs.

The most interesting and unexpected news however has come from Melbourne City Council who are investigating the demand for makerspaces and the viability of operating one in Melbourne. To this end, Melbourne City Council's innovation office, Mathew Wilcox and Second Muse design researcher, Steph Bannister visited Space Tank Studio to learn how to build a makerspace and what is involved in running one.

The real story however is that local Australian governments are courting the idea of allowing the world’s largest makerspace, America’s TechShop, to start operations in our capital cities. To begin operations, TechShop requires millions of dollars in support funding and tax breaks from each city.

The City of Melbourne and Victorian and NSW State Government have approached Space Tank for advice on whether or not to let TechShop set up in our capital cities. Already the world's largest makerspace organisation, TechShop started in Menlow Park, California in 2006 and has become a chain of membership-based, open-access, DIY makerspaces. Born out of a similar frustration with lack of access to enabling equipment, and kickstarted via generous philanthropic funding, Techshop has begun a mission to franchise around the world.

We believe TechShop’s model is not suitable for business development or employment growth as it only serves hobbyist activities. With no business incubator or studio operational revenue, we believe that Techshop's business model is flawed. In Space Tank’s view, TechShop is not financially sustainable and would be a waste of taxpayer’s money.

Our advise is that government should reject the overseas proposal and we have encouraged the support for home grown ecosystem solutions instead.

terestingly, it was the role that makerspaces play as incubators for creative entrepreneurs that really took over the conversation. Makerspaces can and should not only provide practical solutions to makers, they also have the responsibility to provide an ecosystem of industry connections and professional advocacy.

Space Tank Studio combines business incubator and studio rental/equipment rental to the makerspace model. In this way we believe a business makerspace can run a sustainable operation to support creative entrepreneurs.

Being the first of a new kind of makerspace in Melbourne that provides a huge range of equipment, fabrication space, bespoke courses and advocacy to it’s members, we encourage Melbourne City Council and the Victorian State Government to continue their support for makers and innovators and hope to be able to assist in the future to bring makerspace services to a broader audience.

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