Building On Success
When Erbil Makerspace opened in 2019, its aim was to help train Iraqis in digital 3D design and fabrication, help innovators expand on their ideas and help entrepreneurs expand networks - all to build knowledge and the local economy after years of conflict in Iraq.
All of that happened, and more. As the first female-led makerspace in Iraq (and in the Middle East), Erbil Makerspace has trained hundreds of Iraqis in digital design and manufacturing. It has connected hundreds more and inspired innovators to make potentially life-changing healthcare equipment and devices. The Erbil Makerspace has grown consistently, adding new programs and trainings almost every month since it opened.
On Thursday the makerspace and staff built on that growth, relaunching with a new name - Erbil Innovation House (EIH). The space has also been renovated, expanded and received new equipment and programs to help it keep growing.
The new name doesn't change the facility's goals, or its partnership with Re:Coded (formerly known as Re:Coded House), which remains in the space and as a collaborator with Field Ready. Field Ready will manage the joint venture.
The EIH will continue to offer co-working facilities including work desks, internet and hot drinks, along with access to meeting rooms and Field Ready’s now-expanded makerspace.
To mark the occasion, some 25 community members, Field Ready and Re:Coded team members and representatives from GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) came together in-person and virtually to celebrate the relaunch and the venture's accomplishments over the last two busy years.
In addition to a virtual presentation by Buse Cubuk, a GIZ project advisor, Re:Coded and Field Ready staffers talked in detail about their goals for the EIH community and the space.
"We have more room and more equipment now, and we have many more trainings planned," said Ravin Rizgar, Field Ready's Erbil program lead. The group capped off the celebration with a video (below) showcasing the activities and achievements in their short two years together - and lots of food, including a cake decorated with the new EIH logo.
The renovated EIH space includes a makerspace with room for up to 15 people; a training room that can hold up to 20 people; a meeting room for up to 10 people and a co-working space that can hold 45 people. Until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the space will operate at half-capacity, team members said.
The EIH renovation and relaunch is a testament to the program's success, said Field Ready Executive Director Eric James, and a strong signal that Iraq is healing and getting ready to rejuvenate its technology and manufacturing base.
"The training and support innovators find at EIH will help them broaden their opportunities and networks and establish local design and manufacturing, which boosts the local economy," James said. "Because we're doing this in Iraq, we can do this anywhere."