A three-month, cross-country tour to meet Canadian fab labs and other collaborative fabrication spaces.
The road trip, dubbed Fab Labs Nation, got underway a few days ago at ÉchoFab, Quebec’s first fab lab located in Montreal’s innovation district. As it continues on its way, it will make stops in several cities including Toronto and Vancouver. “Over the next three months, we’re going to be promoting fab lab activities across the country,” explained Monique Chartrand, the project founder and CEO of Communautique, an organization dedicated to social and technological innovation that has been supporting the development of fab labs for more than 6 years. A team of three experts in fab lab culture will be travelling from coast to coast spreading the word about this still relatively unknown concept.
A fab lab, short for fabrication laboratory, is designed to provide members of the public centralized access to production tools, empowering these people in the process. In a fab lab, individuals can work on repairing everyday objects, like toasters, or inventing innovative products, like connected devices. The underlying goals are to keep the environmental footprint to a minimum and reduce dependency on large-scale manufacturers. Fab labs also help start-ups turn their concepts into physical prototypes and accelerate their commercial launch by tapping into shared knowledge. They can also provide inventors with guidance on business agreements, help develop new business models, and sometimes even new types of businesses.
“We noticed there was a shortage of information about fab labs, of which there are only about 12 in Canada at the moment. Our goal, with this tour, is to mobilize these creative and collaborative spaces, putting them on the map and showcasing their respective areas of expertise,” said Chartrand. In this way, it will help develop a national structure pinpointing each region’s special features. This structure will be connected to the Fab Foundation global network, created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and comprising over 1,200 fab labs located in a hundred cities around the world.
The tour began on May 1 in Montreal and will be making stops in Quebec City (May 26), Toronto (June 12 and July 17), Vancouver (July 3) and Edmonton (July 10).