Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research

No 2024/2: ‘Making’ in India: Understanding Makerspaces and Fablabs in the Indian Informal Innovation Context

Gautam Sharma ()
Additional contact information
Gautam Sharma: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research, Lund University, PO Box 117, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This study explores makerspaces and fablabs within India's informal innovation context, traditionally associated with grassroots innovators, frugal innovations, and 'jugaad' practices. It introduces a Global South perspective to the largely Global North-dominated discourse on makerspaces and fablabs, highlighting how these spaces function in a unique socio-economic context in India. The research examines the foundational reasons for establishing makerspaces and fablabs in India, their role in fostering innovation networks, and the specific challenges they face, especially in terms of their operations. This paper contrasts with the existing literature, which often focuses on perspectives and experiences from more advanced regions. Using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 20 respondents, including founders, managers, employees, and users of various makerspaces, the study provides an insightful understanding of the Indian scenario. Findings reveal that these spaces in India primarily support startups and entrepreneurial initiatives, marking a shift from the original maker movement's DIY focus. Efforts to include rural, artisan, and grassroots innovator communities are evident, reflecting a commitment to broader innovation inclusivity. This paper contributes to the understanding of the changing dynamics of makerspaces and fablabs in the context of India's innovation landscape. It emphasizes the need for strategies to ensure equitable access and participation, crucial for the sustainability and growth of these innovation spaces. The insights are valuable for policymakers, educators, and makerspaces practitioners in fostering inclusive innovation ecosystems.

Keywords: makerspaces; fabrication laboratories; fablabs; innovation; informal innovation; India

JEL-codes: O30; O31; O53

Language: English

43 pages, January 23, 2024

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