Makerspaces to cater to society’s shifting needs

With the BJP campaigning for “Make in India” policies, the startup scene in India has boomed with 800 new ventures cropping up in India every year. However, the growth in the electronics and mechanical sectors has been slow because the sectors needed prototyping to create new products. The machines required to create these prototypes were not easily available in India until now. The Telangana government signed a contract with FirstBuild, a co-creating company on December 9, 2017, to create the largest Makerspace in India for innovators to test their ideas by creating prototypes easily. This initiative is called T-works and it is set to start in Hyderabad very soon.

Prototyping is an essential component of the business process. It is often ignored by innovators who jump into the manufacturing process directly. Due to the lack of  in India, it was difficult for creators to test their product ideas and to build their prototypes. This caused innovators to jump directly to the manufacturing process without prototyping the product. Due to the high risk, innovators were deterred from creating their ideas into reality. And the ones who did, entered the market with a huge risk because the product had neither been created nor tested before. However, prototyping at T-works will eliminate the high level of risk that results from uncertainty and therefore will propel the number of ideas that turn into reality.

T-works also reduces the cost of testing the product in the market. It is easy to create samples and test them in the market before the manufacturing process is initiated. Furthermore, if there is a problem with the sample products, the process of innovation also becomes easier because the applied innovations can also be tested in the Makerspace. Hence, T-works can be used for both invention and innovation. In addition, it is valuable to note that making changes to a prototype is far simpler in a Makerspace than to make changes to a manufacturing unit which is designed specially to make a specific product.

Establishing T-works involves a large investment of $20 million for procuring in house equipment, and will operate over 2,75,000 square feet of land. Despite, the heavy startup capital, T-works is a business that will propel the formation of more enterprises. The exorbitant investment is justified in the long run because of the the domino effect of social benefits that will be reaped from setting up the Makerspace.

The model of T-works is taken from the i-Hub model in California which lets innovators use the equipment for some monetary charges to test new product ideas. Since T-works is a joint venture between industrialists and the government, it will be collectively run by both of them.

The rise of Makerspaces like T-works represents not only a development in the startup culture in India and the drive to create but also an increase in the consumerist attitude prevailing over Indian society today. Indians are constantly demanding better products and this has not only created a greater competition within industries, but it has also led to an increase in the number of companies which operate within each industry. In the electronics sector, where new advancements happen rapidly, ventures like T-works will promote innovation and design in India. Makerspaces also combat the brain drain happening from the country where people interested in innovation would be forced to head towards foreign countries to test their ideas. However, with T-works, more designers will be motivated to stay back in India.

T-works is launched amidst the competition between Hyderabad and Bangalore aiming to be the hub of startups and technology in India. The IT ministers of the two states are heavily investing in creating co-working spaces, incubation centres and technology to promote entrepreneurship in their respective states. Bangalore had been leading the startup competition with more venture capitalists investing in startups which have originated in Bangalore than those which have originated in Hyderabad.

We can expect India to catch up fast in the race to manufacture electronics and other hardware. India will soon be picking on the vast benefits which lie in this sector. All of these developments have arisen solely because of the increasingly consumerist attitudes due to which people constantly want new innovative and advanced products to replace their old gadgets. Is this a race for business or one to shift society?

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Vidhi is an Economics and Finance major and is in her third year at Ashoka. She is interested in Macro-economics and believes that good economic policies can change the face of the nation and improve the quality of life of millions. She is also a trekking enthusiast and absolutely loves to travel. Mountains are the love of her life. Simplicity in people baffles her.

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