High-tech maker space TechShop planned for Ireland at DCU Innovation Campus

12 Mar 2014

TechShop provides access to more than US$1m worth of machines, software and tools, such as laser cutters. Photo via TechShop Equipment & Tools on Pinterest

TechShop is coming to Ireland. The high-tech ‘maker space’ and Dublin City University (DCU) are today announcing an alliance that aims to give TechShop a home at DCU’s Innovation Campus in Dublin.

Founded in 2006, TechShop is a membership-based workshop and fabrication studio that provides access not just to machines, tools and software, but also to a community of creative people, classes, workshops, instruction and meet-ups.

Companies that have prototyped in TechShop include Square, the card-reader technology invested by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, electric-motorcycle manufacturer Lightning Motors Corp and Embrace, which has developed a low-cost infant warmer to incubate premature babies in the developing world.

The planned TechShop at DCU Innovation Campus aims to support a growing community of digital and hardware innovators and entrepreneurs in Dublin, and DCU’s president Prof Brian MacCraith is in Silicon Valley today with TechShop CEO Mark Hatch to sign a memorandum of understanding and announce the alliance.

First for Ireland

TechShop Dublin represents a first for Ireland and will have a major catalytic impact, MacCraith tells Siliconrepublic.com.

“Signing the MOU in San Jose today represents a serious commitment from both parties to establish TechShop on the DCU Innovation Campus as soon as possible,” he says. “We will both work on creating a sustainable revenue model that engages all significant stakeholders. TechShop and DCU are convinced about the major impact that this development will have on the innovation ecosystem in the Dublin region.”

DCU sought to connect with TechShop because of its reputation, according to MacCraith.

“Through conversations with collaborators and reading media coverage, we became aware of TechShop and its significant impact in many locations. This caused us to get in direct contact with them in San Francisco,” he says. “Our discussions with them were positive from the get-go and this has brought us to this important juncture in San Jose.”

Welding at TechShop

Welding at a TechShop. Photo via TechShop Equipment & Tools on Pinterest

Doors open soon

The planned TechShop will be in Glasnevin, where the building is already in place and MacCraith hopes the process of kitting it out will begin soon.

“We hope to open the doors of TechShop (Dublin) in late 2014 or early 2015,” he says. “Irish innovators will then be able to avail of the advanced fabrication processes provided by the TechShop facility.”

According DCU, the initiative will see TechShop in Dublin facilitate innovators, entrepreneurs, students, researchers, community groups, indigenous businesses and multinational corporations in learning advanced manufacturing skills. The facility would also give them the ability to rapidly prototype new products – from medical devices and clean technologies to consumer electronics and aeronautical innovations.

Hatch stated the organisation was proud to be working with DCU to bring TechShop to Dublin.

“We hope to replicate the success we’ve had at DCU’s sister campus at Arizona State University in Chandler, where we opened last year with the goal of satisfying people’s passion for engineering and ‘making’ with the tools and resources they need,” he said. “Ideally, we will participate in developing education programmes that can be delivered at both TechShop locations.”

Dr Claire O’Connell is a scientist-turned-writer with a PhD in cell biology and a master’s in science communication