Working Group Meeting

Twinning for Innovation Workshop in Jeddah


The AGYA Working Group Innovation met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a workshop on the FabLab movement in the Arab countries and Germany. FabLabs (Fabrication Laboratories) are community-operated, self-organizing and open manufacturing spaces offering equipment like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and other digitally controlled devices. Delivering an easy access to robust and easy-to-handle means of production, they provide an enormous potential to be nuclei for enhancing and initiating innovation capabilities at a grassroots level.

The Working Group aims to develop new approaches to enable and improve technology and knowledge transfer between FabLabs. Presently, there are 606 FabLabs in the world, of which AGYA member states have 50 active FabLabs (8.3%). The Arab region contributes 19 (3%). The AGYA project 'Twinning for Innovation' has investigated possible collaborations between Arab and German FabLabs, referring to the concept of "twinning". Twinning can be defined as organization-to-organization co-operation that leads to mutual exchange between entities with divergent cultural backgrounds but similar structures and objectives.

Objectives of the Working Group Meeting plus Workshop

In the framework of the meeting in Jeddah the Working Group discussed preliminary results of the project, exchanged on chances and challenges of this concept with Arab and German FabLab representatives, and visited the FabLab Arabia in Jeddah.

The FabLab Arabia was established in 2010 and is the first FabLab in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. It counts with all relevant devices and focusses on the educational aspect, therefore it provides open and free access to all non-commercial users. Furthermore it hosts a Fab Academy in which entrepreneurs and inventors can realize projects.

After a guided tour through the FabLab Arabia, the workshop of the AGYA Working Group Innovation was moderated by Jens Dyvik, a Norwegian designer who established his own FabLab in Oslo and made a two-year research tour visiting and working in FabLabs as well as collaborative workspaces all over the world.

The workshop was organized in cooperation with King Abdullah University of Sciences & Technology, (Thuwal), Helmut Schmidt University (Hamburg), and FabLab Arabia (Jeddah).