The Maker Movement in Europe has been steadily picking up steam over the past few years, as evidenced in part by the growing number of Maker Faires being organized across the continent. From large-scale featured Faires that draw sizable audiences in cities including Rome, Paris, and Hannover to smaller-scale Mini Maker Faires in places like Stockholm, Eindhoven, and Trieste, the energy and enthusiasm with which these events are organized and conducted is uniformly amped and unparalleled. And the rate at which the number of events and attendees is growing is nothing short of impressive. Take Maker Faire Rome, for instance, now in its fourth year, which welcomed over 100,000 Makers and enthusiasts last year.
Inspired by this momentum and the positive impact that Makers inherently have on innovation and the economy, the European Commission, in collaboration with Maker Faire Rome and Startup Europe, are hosting the premiere European Maker Week (EMW) this year, a series of Maker events set to take place from May 30 through June 5 across 28 European countries. In a nutshell, all fab labs, makerspaces, schools, research centers, and basically any organizations that promote making are encouraged to organize and register an event during that week, creating a critical mass of Maker awareness and networking across the continent. Events can be anything from workshops to conferences to meetups and beyond. The map at top shows events that have already been planned, with more being added every day. For example, you can learn how to train your robot in Bucharest, go to an open design workshop in Barcelona, or attend an open day at Fablab Amsterdam.
The main two goals of European Maker Week are simple yet profound:
1. To create awareness about the importance of the Maker culture in order to foster creativity and innovation in all schools across Europe.
2. To build bridges between local Maker ecosystems and local authorities and media.
The impetus behind European Maker Week? From the site:
We believe that Makers will be able to make a positive contribution to our society and to the European economy, especially within the educational environment and by creating innovative startups based on hardware products. We want to enhance this world of people who work locally but in a global network. We would like to combine our forces in order to organize a week of public events across Europe: a huge umbrella event under which local initiatives will flourish as part of a European network. We want to encourage the encounter and dialogue between Makers and society, citizens, investors and institutions, by spreading the awareness of how the construction of a different future will be happening thanks to this new ecosystem. Of particular importance is to use the EMW (European Maker Week) as a platform to build bridges between local Maker ecosystems and local authorities and media.
Recently, Maker Faire Program Director Sabrina Merlo hosted a Hangout on Air discussion with a number of key players in European Maker Week, to discuss the details. Among the group was Arduino cofounder and Maker Faire Rome organizer Massimo Banzi, who applauded the growing turnout of the Italian Faire as well as the impact that Makers have on the economy, and explained:
You can bring only so many people to Rome every year, and it is important for people to be able to celebrate Makers right next to where they live … to have a week where there are different events that are promoting Maker culture in Europe. … Also, I think that the way Europe is embracing the Maker Movement is for reasons slightly different than the U.S., and in some cases, it’s tied differently to the way the economy is organized or the countries are organized … So I think it’s important for Europeans to have a space where they can organize events in schools, in companies, in communities.
Maker Faire Bilboa organizer Karim Asry later chimed in:
We’re really glad, here in Bilbao, in Spain, that this is taking place because it’s going to help put Maker culture in the public agenda, and that also makes it easier for other people to go see the local authorities or eventual sponsors and help start a Maker event or makerspace. One of the key problems we have here in Europe, compared to the U.S., is that the word Maker is not so mainstream and the concept is still something people don’t understand that much. I think it’s a good starting point to see how we have to translate Maker culture to Europe to make it something more understandable and to extend the circle to accelerate things.
We applaud the efforts and goals of European Maker Week and look forward to seeing the plethora of events that will take place!
If you’d like to organize an event, all the information you need is on the site.
For inspiration in the meantime, check out all the Maker Faires that are currently scheduled in Europe from now through European Maker Week:
Saint-Malo Mini Maker Faire (France): April 9 & 10, 2016 – 3rd annual
Edinburgh Mini Maker Faire (Scotland): April 10, 2016 – 4th annual
Göteborg Mini Maker Faire (Sweden): April 16 & 17, 2016 – 2nd annual
Maker Faire Vienna (Austria): April 16 & 17, 2016 – 1st annual
Maker Faire UK (Newcastle, UK): April 23 & 24, 2016 – 7th annual
Maker Faire Paris (France): April 30 & May 1, 2016 – 3rd annual
Stockholm Mini Maker Faire (Sweden): May 7 & 8, 2016 – 3rd annual
Osijek Mini Maker Faire (Croatia): May 14, 2016 – 1st annual
Kyiv Mini Maker Faire (Ukraine): May 20 & 21, 2016 – 2nd annual
Trieste Mini Maker Faire (Italy): May 21 & 22, 2016 – 3rd annual
Maker Faire Hannover (Germany): May 27, 28 & 29, 2016– 4th annual
Vilnius Mini Maker Faire (Lithuania): May 28, 2016 – 1st annual
Rouen Mini Maker Faire (France): June 2 & 3, 2016 – 2nd annual