The objective of this study is twofold: to understand the innovation and entrepreneurship challenges and opportunities within the context of Dhaka, and to propose a tailored solution based on the FabLab model that will successfully address these opportunities and challenges.
Building upon NextFab Foundation’s expertise in setting up similar innovation centers in developing countries to address comparable objectives, we devote the last chapter of this document to a specific proposal with quantitative and qualitative features that will best suit the needs and opportunities we have identified in the context assessment study.
In more detail, we began the context assessment by organising a study visit to Dhaka. A team of experts from NextFab foundation interviewed relevant stakeholders in person. Stakeholders included, members of management and staff of the following organizations: skill development centres, incubation and acceleration centres, governmental bodies, the leading technical universities, some representatives from the industries, NGOs & social enterprises, as well as key organizations from the makers ecosystem. After the collection of the data through site visits, interviews, focus groups and targeted desk research the team created an evaluation metric system which ranks all stakeholders against a list of specific criteria which group under two distinct categories: “team and ecosystem” and “facilities and users”. Each criteria under those groups, has a specific weight of importance in relation to the Fablab creation, and thus we can assign a specific ranking number to the information gathered from each stakeholder evaluated.
The second part of the contextual assessment involves the documentation of the needs of relevant users. This stage was addressed with the use of focus groups performed from the relevant ecosystem of the aforementioned stakeholders. During the focus group each potential user of the FabLab completed a questionnaire that captured their background, their needs and the importance and prioritisation of them. It also provided them the ability to propose which labs within the FabLab they most preferred and deemed useful in their daily challenges. It also involved many practical questions that become design considerations within the proposal in the end.
Based on the results presented in the relevant stakeholders evaluation and the user needs assessment, we established the characteristics of the proposed Lab. The proposal encompasses both qualitative and quantitative considerations. Specifically, this involves the recommendation of the structure of the operating team, the nature of the FabLab program and services, and the connection of the Fablab with various entities and organizations in the ecosystem. The proposal also includes the projected social and economic impact figures, the typology of labs selected within the Fablab, as well as, their proposed size. The proposal closes with suggested timelines, phases from start to completion, and addresses key topics such as social and financial sustainability considerations.