MadLab

Promoters: 
Rachael Turner, Asa Calow.
Country: 
United Kingdom
Community-based learning center, informal and self-funded around emerging technologies, it provides individuals and groups with an open space to work, meet, hold events, exchange and develop innovative projects.
What solution does the innovation propose?

The creation of a hybrid space, an environment for the ‘nebulous three stage period’ of creativity. It could be described formally as a Technical and Scientific Service (TSS) organisation that provides innovators with supporting services and infrastructure to realise their imagination. This definition is somewhat overly formal and precise. MadLab is a cultural organisation encapsulating and extending a hackerspace and vice versa. This makes MadLab a prototype for other creative organisations in its own right.

Recognitions

MadLab and CodeUp won ‘Best Partnership’ at the National Coding Week Awards (2016).

Impact evidence

Outputs
  • 70 community groups having meetings in the same space.
  • Open seven days a week.
  • MadLab has grown with it – from six groups to more than 50, sprouting countless workshops and projects in turn.
How does it work?

The venue does host a hackerspace-type group but it has also been the host to sub-cultural groups such as
Manchester's gothic community and formally recognised national organisations such as the Chartered Institute for IT, the British Computer Society, as well as a science fiction reading group and a speculative fiction creative writing group. It also hosts a range of innovative projects – some externally funded and others that are not. The current list of projects provides an indication of the diversity of interests that are hosted and represented within the organisation. For example, Patchworks is a project run in conjunction with Lancaster University, with the aim of developing self-diagnostic tools for hard-to-reach and homeless communities.
Another one of the active Madlab community projects is DIYbioMCR. This group is ‘dedicated to making biology an accessible pursuit for citizen scientists, amateur biologists and biological engineers who value openness and safety’.
In addition to the groups and communities that make up Madlab, creative spaces are also an important element of the organisation. For example Madlab has established itself as an Exhibition Space, within the Northern Quarter of Manchester’s dynamic art scene.
Apart from creative spaces, Madlab also hosts a diversity of training and professional development activities, some of these offerings encompass its more clearly commercial operations. Omniversity is the professional training arm of MadLab. Short courses are offered in the evenings and on weekends covering a range of topics and specialisms that are not otherwise presented by other commercial bodies. These courses tend to focus upon more applied or directed training.

Geographical scope

Where was initially developed
Manchester, UK.