A New Space for Dreamers, Makers and Doers

A team based at NextFab creating projects with metal and woodwork. Source: NextFab

Today LaunchVic announced the first round of funding recipients for Victorian startups. Out of almost 400 applications, we were successful in securing one of the largest chunks of the round, receiving $650,000 to establish a new Makerspace at the Dream Factory in Footscray. In collaboration with Melbourne’s Protoworks and Philadelphia-based NextFab, Fab9 will be a space for makers, creators and experimenters to come together to learn, develop and grow new hardware startups.

Our idea for the space is to turn the traditional hackerspace concept on its head by bringing together multiple partners into the space for hardware, middleware and traditional makers to work together and explore what can sprout from these connections.

The space will have a core set of tools, including digital fabrication equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and an electronics lab with hardware and PCB prototyping facilities. It will also include a wood and metal shop, as well as a textile and fashion space with a focus on wearable tech. The membership-based space will provide our community not only with a space to work, but access to a consciously fostered culture of innovation. Experienced makers in the community will have the opportunity to offer workshops and classes for those who are less familiar with the tools and technologies.

We want to build a maker community that will enable Melbourne to become a world-class hub for hardware innovation. We’ll be enhancing skilled employment in our state, and start driving new streams of entrepreneurship that will stimulate economic development in Melbourne’s inner-west. The people of Fab9 will put Melbourne on the map as a global competitor for innovative hardware and manufacturing products.

Ironworking at Philadelphia’s NextFab. Source: NextFab

In addition to the makerspace, we’ve started to build a Virtual Reality Lab in partnership with Snobal, allowing people to experience and collaborate on new platforms. One of the first residents for Inspire9 at the Dream Factory, Snobal is building Snobal is a platform enabling business to deliver and track 3D virtual learning experiences for customers, partners and workforce. We’re super excited about the opportunities we’ll be able to unlock collaborating with such an exciting team.

Inspire9 has already opened 438sqm of dedicated coworking space at the Dream Factory, with another 767sqm slated for early 2017.

“We’ve already had such a warm welcome to Footscray. We love the energy, and we love the community. The makerspace will enhance our offering and engage with a new audience of people in the city’s west.” — Mark Balla, CEO Inspire9

The makerspace will enhance our offering for the community and engage with a new audience of people in the city’s west. People will be able to get their hands dirty and really play around with the materials and technologies to make things, build prototypes and most importantly, have fun.

Melbourne already has an energetic makerspace community, with spaces such as Footscray Maker Lab, Connected Community HackerSpace and Make-Create in Brunswick all generating some exceptional projects and businesses, and we can’t wait to start working with these pioneers. Hardware entrepreneurs still face tremendous challenges in Australia when it comes to access, capital and know-how, and Fab9 will be the rocket in which these home-grown hardware startups will be able to launch into global markets.

We are pretty excited to have so many great things in the works, it’s an incredible time to be a part of the Melbourne startup ecosystem!

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