Ballymun as a test base for innovative products & services PROTOTYPE 3

Mobile Makerspace for North Dublin

 Summary Document – June 2016

Despite the significant recent investment from Government in the promotion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Math), there is still a long away to go to create further awareness of STEAM subjects, benefits of engagement in STEAM and research/job opportunities for our citizens in STEAM.  Research undertaken in the last three years in Ireland via the Science Foundation Ireland/ Amárach, Accenture and Forfás highlight the barriers and challenges to raising awareness and engagement of STEAM in our economy:-

  • Gendering of certain careers
  • Lack of adequate information for guardians
  • Negative stereotypes
  • Student awareness of STEM and opportunities is
  • Re-alignment of industry requirements and subject choices of students.
  • Skills deficit within Ireland’s workforce to meet the demand of employers.

In order to work to reduce the barriers and challenges posed it is critical that relevant stakeholders work together; Government and Local Government, Third Level, Schools, Business and Nonprofits, utilising their ecosystems and resources for the benefit of progressing STEAM in Ireland’s economy.


A deep engagement piece conducted by Innovate Dublin in Ballymun last year pointed to a great demand among community organisations for a community maker-space or modern open workshop for North Dublin. The key to sustaining social regeneration in the area is to allow the community to co-produce and co-deliver their own services and infrastructure. Innovate Dublin believe that a community maker-space would demonstrate to the community the value in doing things for themselves, beginning with re-establishing a culture of making in North Dublin.

DCU Alpha, Maker.ie and Innovate Dublin have been separately developing ideas for (community) Dublin makerspaces. All parties see the value in providing opportunities for employment, up skilling, [innovation through skills cross-pollination] and developing a self-sufficient maker culture in Dublin and across Ireland. A number of state agencies and skills bodies are starting to see value in makerspaces to support innovation on STEAM programmes. On top of this we see an opportunity to bring a large set of previously excluded citizens into a workforce around the Internet of Things and Smart Cities.  Communities in North Dublin in particular are uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of these emerging areas for hardware manufacture.

Our organisations have decided to come together to collaborate on an MVP (minimum viable product) test makerspace for North Dublin. The prototype will consist of a mobile maker-space; equipment and a reduced programme for specific community stakeholders. The mobile space will allow us to test the concept, and ultimately attract the right kind of learning and support that will allow us to scale the idea, and meet each of our organisations ambitions and goals if proven a success.


As social innovation and design thinking open up opportunities to prototype new solutions for citizens and communities, the makerspace has emerged as a modern community resource, where people come together to make new products and facilitate new opportunities for manufacture. A flexible concept, a makerspace acts like a hub, connecting makers and doers and providing them with a shared resources to realise ideas – design software, 3D printers, soldering irons, workspace, hot-desk space, etc.

Makerspaces are rapidly popping up across the world, providing cost-effective sustainable community workshops that allow entrepreneurs and artisans alike to develop new skills and products. Some facilities are based around a particular exercise or cohort – for instance IoT hardware or female makers – but all are considered important community assets and catalysts for change. Not only are makerspaces a focal point for sharing new skills and new business ideas, but as modern workshops they provide a community resource - real physical space for citizens to share ideas and develop cross-sector links on which bigger projects, united around shared visions and ideas for collective improvement can emerge.

Ambitions and Goals

Our consortium of a third level body, local government, non-profit, including an ecosystem spanning multinational organisations, aims to deliver a MVP, or minimum viable product to test the delivery and implementation of a mobile makerspace. The prototype will consist of a mobile make-space; equipment and a reduced programme for specific community stakeholders. The mobile space will allow us to test the concept, and ultimately attract the right kind of learning and support that will allow us to each scale the idea to meet our own objectives.

At a high-level our collective ambitions are as follows:

Plan for a Prototype Maker Space - Affiliation Agnostic

What - Mobile demonstrator workshop

How – Chance to collaborate, test relationship, understand the effort required for wider collaboration on bigger project

  • Opportunity to test and attract support, develop community around the idea
  • Understand some associated costs with full-scale Maker Space rollout
  • Understand minimum possible effort by engaging established maker spaces
  • Maximize impact to bring in more stakeholders and funding opportunities

Concept – In Development

The bottom line is to prove the business model. A mobile make-space with a reduced programme and equipment -

  • Mobile unit to run programme for 3-4 weeks per site
  • 1 x Manager, 1 x Workshop Manager, 1 x Workshop Assistant
  • Limited focus for pilot around local DCU ecosystem, schools etc.
  • View MVP as an opportunity to seed interest, tick boxes with appropriate stakeholders and achieve funding targets for whole makerspace.

Draft Timeline 2016-2017


  • Complete Business Plan – signed by Partners
  • Raise Awareness with potential Stakeholders-indirect funding support for MVP.


  • Agreement with private sector sponsors completed for fit-out of vehicle.
  • Application to SFI for Make-space manager and team overheads for 6 months.


  • Fit-out commences and completed


  • Launch/press

February - July

  • Monitoring/documentation begins
  • Events schedule implemented- Roadshow, rollout across the country. Programme or Offer customised by location (i.e. Aluminium, aeronautical engineering in Shannon etc.).


  • Overall evaluation/press/lobbying concluded.