Through its hub at the University of Cape Town Intellectual Property Unit (UCT IP Unit), Open AIR is a consortium member in the just-launched African European Maker Innovation Ecosystem (mAkE)  project. Funded by the EU, mAkE 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 ecosystems, through their support of innovators, entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs seeking to generate livelihoods through sustainable, locally/socially appropriate digital innovations.

Launched this month (February 2022), mAkE runs until early 2025, and the following are the other mAkE consortium members—all of whom, like 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
  • pairing of high-potential DIH/makerspace-linked ventures with mentors
  • venture-building support to DIH/makerspace-linked start-ups
  • a makers-in-residence programme fostering 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 nationally, regionally, and internationally
  • piloting of an open contracting system for national/regional distributed manufacturing of products by collaborating DIHs/makerspaces
  • gathering of existing open educational resources (OERs) with relevance to DIHs/makerspaces, development of additional OERs drawing on mAkE project activities, and compilation of a massive open online course (MOOC) for DIH/makerspace managers and participants