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Innovative Manufacturing Awards


Supporting research and innovation capabilities in the hardware maker innovation ecosystem in collaboration with 9 African makerspaces.

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About the project

Makerspaces are hubs for an emerging innovation ecosystem on the African continent.

This ecosystem supports local manufacturing using techniques such as digital fabrication through 3D Printing or laser cutting, human-centred design processes and rapid prototyping. Makerspaces have become educational hubs for training the next generation of engineers and craftspeople. They support start-ups in design, prototyping and batch manufacturing. They support local factories that seek to develop new products and laboratories that seek to conduct research. They are places where young innovators could make a livelihood by manufacturing items using open hardware or on contract with proprietary designs. They represent a new paradigm of production – distributed local production, rather than centralised mass production. And they offer a way to support the development of new forms of economic growth.

But they are not well researched and demands for evidence of their impact are increasing, particularly from policy-makers and donors.

The Innovative Manufacturing in Africa Awards program is project aiming to address gaps in research and innovation systems in makerspaces and their ecosystems with the following activities:

  1. Strengthening the research capacity of makerspaces.
  2. Action research into decentralised production across 9 makerspaces.
  3. Common research for evidence of the impacts of makerspaces.
  4. Publication of a makerspace operating models website.

The impact of the Innovative Manufacturing in Africa Awards will be a significant increase in the research and innovation capacity and financial stability of makerspaces in support of sustainable economic growth and resilient livelihoods in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

Strengthen the hardware maker innovation ecosystem and its research capacity.

9 African makerspaces

The following nine (9) African Makerspaces, led by or serving underrepresented or marginalised groups, received an award of $19 000 USD to participate in the IMA Project.


Design and Technology Institute (DTI)
Kumasi Hive
Triple Dimension


FabLab Winam

South Africa

Flat Rock Studio
The Makerspace Durban
TMG Makerspace

Innovative Manufacturing in Africa

Strengthening the hardware maker innovation ecosystem and its research capacity in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa with partners to grow the evidence base.

Research capacity for impact tracking

A data management plan and a report on makerspaces impact indicators have been published to help the cohort to collect data with support of experts mentors.

Measuring Makerspaces Impacts
Open catalogue of business models

An open catalogue of business models for makerspaces developed based on research and interviews. A website will be develop to publish and guide adoption.

Open catalogue of Business Models
Innovation - Distributed Production trials

1,125 items with 3 levels of complexity to be produced across the 9 participating makerspaces and to be donated to local healthcare facilities, following by a report on distributed manufacturing.

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Prototyping innovative digital infrastructure for local manufacturing

The 9 makerspaces will participate in testing prototypes of new digital infrastructure for local manufacturing.

Map of Machinery based on the Open Know-Where standard

The 9 makerspaces and their machines featured on the Internet of production global map of machinery.

Map of machinery
People & Skills Specification

The People & Skills Specification (PSS) is tested by makers participating in production, to gather learnings that will inform the creation of a digital ‘maker passport’.

People & Skills Specification
Contracting for distributed production

Makers and Makerspaces will participate in the distributed production of 1125 items across 3 countries and 9 makerspaces.

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Innovative Manufacturing Awards updates and community

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Innovative Manufacturing Awards Youtube channel

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