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Birmingham City Council and Birmingham City University are joining forces on 13th and 14th June to welcome a European delegation to the city. The delegates are here as part of a European Funded project team to look into ways of boosting the local economy by encouraging SMEs to become more innovative. The West Midlands were recently identified as being the joint lowest performing in terms of the Regional Innovation Scoreboard. So clearly there is work to be done.

Part of this innovation which the project hopes to spark in more SMEs stems from the latest hot topic in creative circles creative maker spaces. These are spaces where people with a variety of skills work together to come up with new ideas and products. A fantastic example of this is the recently opened maker space in Digbeth: STEAMhouse.

Opened in May this year, STEAMhouse is home to specially designed spaces to prototype new products and develop new ideas, plus a fabrication facility where members can experiment with digital, wood, metal and print production. It could be the birthplace of the next big idea for the city!

The delegates will also be visiting a number of maker spaces and creative quarters in the city including: Innovation Birmingham, Fizz Pop and the Custard Factory to gather ideas to take home.

The Urban M project has been up and running since spring 2017. Over the past year the partnership has seen many interesting examples of collaborative maker spaces. The project is supporting policy makers and local city stakeholders to share good practice on the development and sustainability of collaborative maker spaces. One of the key aims of the project is to learn from the successes which already exist within the partnership, in supporting local innovation through collaborative making. The project’s objective is to share good practice and to ensure maker spaces thrive by changing local and regional innovation policy to support them. Currently we are working with eight cities (Birmingham, Bratislava, Lazio, Lisbon, Kranj, San Sebastian, Vilnius, Zagreb), but ultimately we hope the good practices and learning developed through this project will be transferrable to other cities and regions across the EU.

So far we have seen and learnt from the following examples of maker spaces across the partnership:

Birmingham School of Jewellery

The School of Jewellery based at Birmingham City University is the largest in Europe, with unrivalled facilities and expertise. The industry-standard facilities have everything under one roof, including specialist horology labs, 3D printing, silversmithing, jewellery laboratories and more.


Ingot studios, Stirchley, Birmingham

A small collaborative maker space in the suburbs of Birmingham.


San Sebastian – Innovation League 

A Pop-up maker space is erected during InnoWeek in San Sebastian.


Lazio Spazio Attivio 


The Viterbo maker space is an open facility focussing on providing practical help to citizens and entrepreneurs. It fits within the family of support centres run through the Lazio Region.


Fondazione Mondo Digitale

FMD exists to promote the sharing of knowledge, social innovation and social inclusion, with particular attention to the categories at risk of exclusion (elderly, immigrants, unemployed young people, etc.).



Radiona has been founded in order to enhance the visibility of makers’ open source culture and self sustainable production, as well as connecting the arts, science and technology (STEAM).

The objective here is to create new realities of networked and collaborative intermedia and new media practices in line with DIY (do-it-yourself) and DIWO (do-it-with-others) cultures.


Techno park, Zagreb

A newly refurbished incubation space in the old exhibition centre of Zagreb.

Technology Park Zagreb is a new space where entrepreneurs can get the infrastructure and consulting needed to facilitate and expedite the journey from idea to market. Co-working and lab space are available.



Fablab Lisboa is a laboratory for digital fabrication and prototyping with the objective of supporting the creativity and the development of new collaborative projects through access to equipment and knowledge .


Fábrica Moderna, Lisboa 

A creative workshop with shared space for residents, where ideas become products.

Fábrica Moderna is much more than a digital manufacturing laboratory, we are a collaborative space where people, companies and students can share knowledge and strengthen synergies. We are the first commercial Makerspace in Lisbon and our focus is Maker Businesses!


Bratislava, Fab Lab 


The fab lab is on the Comenius university campus just outside the city and is focussed on student enterprise ., Bratislava 

Lab Café is a private maker space supported by Orange in the city centre which combines a cafe with a maker space and a co-working facility.


Watch this space, follow Urban M on Twitter @UrbanM_Interreg

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