African European Maker Innovation Ecosystem (mAkE) Project

by Dr. Chris Armstrong – Researcher, Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR)

The UCT IP Unit, in its capacity as an institutional hub for the Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) network, is managing Open AIR’s participation in the EU-funded African European Maker Innovation Ecosystem (mAkE) project. Launched in 2022 and running until 2025, the mAkE initiative is facilitating collaboration between, and strengthening of, African and European hardware-focused Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) and makerspaces. DIHs and makerspaces are key players in their local innovation environments – through their support of innovators, entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs seeking to create solutions to local problems and generate livelihoods through sustainable digital innovations.

The following are the other mAkE project consortium members – all of whom, like the UCT IP Unit and Open AIR, have strong track records in supporting the work of grassroots innovators:

The mAkE work programmes include:

  • development of a business models toolkit for DIHs/makerspaces
  • venture-building support to DIH/makerspace-linked start-ups, and pairing of high-potential ventures with mentors
  • a makers-in-residence programme for product collaborations between African and European makers
  • case studies of DIH/maker associations’ interactions with policymaking, and “Minister Meet Makers” policy collaboration events
  • piloting of a Maker Passport for mutual skills recognition among DIHs/makerspaces
  • online mapping of machines available at African and European DIHs/makerspaces
  • piloting of an open contracting system for distributed manufacturing by networks of collaborating DIHs/makerspaces
  • gathering and creation of online open educational resources (OERs), and development of a massive open online course (MOOC), to support capacity building at DIHs/makerspaces