Metrolab

The Concept

The Metrolab would be designed as a fab lab studio for small towns that would allow the creation and sharing of new ideas, the fabrication of prototypes with added value, and the establishment of a provincial (or state-wide) innovation network. It would be installed in boroughs of big cities or in smaller towns.

The Background

Every community is full of inventors and entrepreneurs of all ages. A few are lucky enough to see their ideas come to life, while others don’t have enough resources to achieve their vision. I thought of the Metrolab concept following a tender from the Société des Transports de Montréal for the conversion of old metro trains. The goal is to provide low cost infrastructure, tools, funding, material, and qualified partners to young inventors in Quebec. Eventually, new small-scale businesses would be created.

How It Works

First of all, Metrolab is a modular physical space built from old MR-63 subway wagons. These wagons are 40 feet long and could be installed on vacant lots close to colleges or universities. The labs would help create new ideas and assemble and develop new prototypes with funding from local angel investors. The Metrolab project uses microcredit and crowdfunding principles. It would be aimed at innovators and inventors all around Quebec. It would be a great alternative for towns that don’t have the resources to build creative studios.

As a sort of youth centre for creative minds, all kinds of people like inventors, students, engineers, mechanics, and local entrepreneurs would get help with their projects through Metrolabs.

The infrastructure setup could be funded by angel investors like Anges Québec or local, provincial (MEIE), or federal (DEC) development organizations. The initial program duration would be eight years so that costs could be absorbed more easily. A dismantling budget should be allocated before the implementation of each Metrolab. To reduce annual costs, the city would waive taxes on the lab. In exchange for any investment, participants would commit themselves to establish their future businesses locally (in the same city as the Metrolab).

The Metrolabs would create a network of shared resources. For example, the Metrolab in one town could buy a 3D printing machine, and another could buy a small milling machine. They could trade jobs whenever needed. Local businesses could also contribute by providing material or expertise to inventors.

What It’s Used For

At $5,000 a wagon, the Metrolab concept is good way to create low-cost fab labs in certain boroughs and small towns. Metrolabs could collaborate with larger creative studios and incubators to take advantage of everyone’s ideas and promote them on a national or international scale.

The Designer

I would like to thank Abhishek Roy, who created the images for the Metrolab concept. Abhishek is the owner of Lunatic Koncepts, a design business installed in India. Abhishek’s team also created the Antipode and Korbiyor designs.

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