Global Young Academy 5th International Conference for Young Scientists 2015
The Global Maker Movement and Humanitarian Innovation: What is the Potential?
Has anyone been to a Maker Faire? Few yeses.
Difference between hackathon, science fair, maker faire?
Hackathon — More engineering and computer science focused, i.e. develop an app over 48 hours.
Science fair — Develop an idea/experiment, or idea, over a year.
Maker faire — More community focused. Everyone is just sharing what they do in their spare time. Showcase what they’ve done in DIY.
What are the challenges for information dissemination?
What is available and locally relevant (considering limited resources etc.)?
Anecdote from attendee:
- Working in Nairobi
- Trying to create an open innovation approach and engage with the ecosystem and the makers/students in the area. However, there is no maker space. Lack of resources to nurture prototyping.
- One successful makerspace was the iHub, where they create apps.
- Partnered with UNICEF, iHub and Philips Foundation to establish this MakerLab to advance modern childcare
- iHub was copied all across Africa
What about places that lack this ecosystem?
- There’s a difference between my project and what’s discussed today in this forum
- My focus is on young adults to stimulate maker culture amongst this demographic instead of younger kids
- Then the rural adults will come over
- However it does exist, in rural areas where people create their own simple solutions to everyday problems (i.e. Welding two cars together to create larger taxis, in Mali).
How can we find these people who are hands on? How can we provide them the resources?
- However, these people are used to working with what they have
- If we suddenly resource them, then we may unleash more potential
- Since we are flood with resources in Western cultures, the necessity to innovate when encountered with smaller engineering problems (i.e. drilling a small thin hole) is greatly reduced
- People creating cheap solutions in their garages (water heater to kill bacteria for 100, Polymerase Chain Reaction device for 200)
What do they need?
- Scalability in the tools
- Training in thinking
- Capacity to build it
- What are the tools that we need and want to build? They would never have been exposed to a PCR (polymerase chain reaction). It’s also about understanding the potential of these tools
- Potential solutions — iTunesU, Khan Academy
- Don’t think about it from a first-world perspective -> How can we identify what they need?
- Free time (gender equality is a component about this)
What are existing challenges?
- Hard to make high tech quality devices
- Trying to build a low-cost microscope
- Where are the electronic boards? Order it from China/Europe/NA
- Some people take scrap parts from electronics
Does the Maker Movement always need high technology?
- No, depends on problem
- Important to consider empowering the people
o Engineers Without Borders doing business development in people (Business Development Services Africa is the venture name)
o TeleHealth to bring knowledge overseas
o Microloaning (microfinancing)
o Investment in people is also important
Benefit of Maker Movement is project ownership.
MISSING LINK — Get to the ugly prototype from the initial design process, but how can we move forward to get an investor and start a business? Does he/she need an investor? Yes, to get the scale.
Is it enough to just get the idea online and share it?
But if we create a company, we can create economic development and jobs.
- Maker Movement can have impact at many different levels
Discussion on Whether getting Makers to create Social Enterprises Unleashes Humanitarian Potential
However, creating businesses does not necessarily unleash humanitarian potential?
How do we disseminate the ideas and knowledge?
- Mustard Oil as tackling malaria.
By turning it into a business, it automatically scales.
Many people in Africa are after these ‘made innovations’ to make a living
Have to be careful if we are imposing our values are first-world individuals about the need of a business.
Conclusion — Both are compatible. Need a company built on a product that is relevant to the local context. Maker Movement needs to empower people to do it themselves, but also provide the resources to build the product/idea where they want to go.
However, in a development context, technology can become disempowering. Example, they get technology they can’t fix or don’t have the parts to fix it.
In the Maker Movement, can we empower the people to build their own solutions?
How can the Maker Movement play a role in addressing climate change?
- Maker Movement is going to be more effective at solving local problems, not global problems
- However, consider that on local scales, there are little to no energy infrastructures or grids. Thus, it might be an opportunity to innovate a new system that is more environmentally aware
- Local impact for renewable energy, used rain fall to drive a turbine that generated energy. This idea wouldn’t work in the First World, but in South America where it was developed, it was highly impactful at the school where it operated.
Need investment to help the Makers scale up. Tools and scaling.
Solving other people’s problems is not sustainable. Need to consult those who live there to better understand their needs and resources
How to innovate the slumps? Poverty reduction. Ask people for ideas and provide them resources. Ex. Frying pan to make chips to sell on the street. Making new livelihoods and business ideas.
Check in our biases and better understand the context by engaging with the locals.
Mindset — Not buy a new one, fix it or re-purpose it
Recurring Theme — Worry about replacing things that are provided by foreign parties.
Sometimes NGO provides products that are re-purposed for the people’s real problems.
Top-down approach is wrong, bottom-up is needed.
Maker Movement is about bottom-up
Universal agreement that there is a lot of potential.
How can we unlock this potential? How can we support the Maker Movement?