An interesting aspect of the Fablab Lisboa is the strategic impulse which resulted in its creation. The City of Lisbon took a bold decision to respond to the economic crisis of 2008 and the consequent unemployment it brought by designing an integrated strategy focusing on the promotion of entrepreneurship. The objective was to bring together public, private, local and national bodies in order to create new projects and increase the city’s competitiveness at an international scale. Aside from the creation of the Fablab, Lisbon pursued the following:

• Development of business incubators to facilitate the launch of start-ups

• Fostering of an ecosystem for innovation through the Lisbon Incubator Network

• Launch of the Lisbon Challenge initiative that selects local start-ups to receive top mentoring and support in different parts of the world

• Creation of Lisboa Empreende (a program that supports micro-entrepreneurs in the fields of commerce and services)

• Launch of the Lisbon Youth Entrepreneurship Program education and training for youth in citizenship and ethics, career development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

 Secondly the rebranding/diversification whole city approach strategy to position San Sebastian as an ‘innovation city’. An interesting element of the approach is the promotion of an annual ‘Innovation Week’ of activities and events and providing a web portal linking the innovation offer to the city’s cultural and lifestyle offer. Another element of the approach is to boost local latent by supporting its development by creating local talent retention opportunities while focusing on the recruitment of people with high capabilities and of local talent abroad. Initiatives include a ‘Connecting Talent’ portal, the use of ‘talent grants’ as wage subsidies for returning professionals, and the ‘Innovative Talent’ programme to promote the hiring of professionals under 35. Further, there is support to high value added business projects to give impetus in the city to create new business opportunities which in turn create employment opportunities particularly in strategic sectors with growth prospects. The activities include subsidy programmes for technological development, internationalisation support companies and the ‘Yuzz programme’ to help under30s with their business ideas.


What are your hopes for what the project can achieve? 

The policy meeting in Birmingham was an incredibly useful opportunity to bring together local stakeholders & transnational partners to reflect on what Birmingham can do to address the challenge we set: How can Birmingham’s STEAM infrastructure allow its SMEs to become more innovation active, with a particular emphasis on prototyping. 

A whole host of ideas were generated including:

• Creating a whole city approach where greater connectivity between the huge variety of maker spaces is facilitated.

• More support to grass roots spaces including capitalising on the opportunity to link them up to more well established CMS facilities such as STEAMHouse

• More attention must be given to how facilities such as STEAMHouse can drive the skills agenda

• Better connectivity of businesses particularly SMEs to the CMS infrastructure through the Growth Hub

• Creation of a STEAM innovation district

• Space for a digital collaborative maker space

From a strategic point of view, the project fits with the strategic objectives of the Greater Birmingham Strategic Economic Plan, namely:

• Increase business and workforce productivity and competitiveness – particularly by raising skills levels and stimulating demand-led innovation

• Increase private sector investment, including overseas investment

• Increase business survival and growth

• Increase exports particularly amongst Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

• Enable more inclusive growth that delivers benefits more widely and reduces unemployment – particularly in parts of Birmingham and North Solihull with high rates.

The project also responds clearly to Birmingham City Council Plan 2018-2022, OUTCOME 1: Birmingham is an entrepreneurial city to learn, work and invest in, with the following priorities:

1: We will create opportunities for local people to develop skills and make the best of economic growth.

2: We will strive to maximise the investment in the city and engage local employers to create quality jobs and opportunities for citizens.

3: We will invest in growth sectors where Birmingham has competitive strengths to diversify the economic base of the city

It also fits with the GBSLEP Strategic Priorities: 

• Innovation and creativity – becoming a world leader in innovation and breativity – connecting cutting edge research and innovation

  • Global connections – exploiting our role as and international gateway
  • Creating growth – spreading opportunity and prosperity to all sections of society
  • Innovation & Creativity
  • A world leader in innovation & creativity - commercialising cutting-edge research & innovation