Cutting-edge technology will be accessible to members of the public in Footscray, thanks to a $650,000 grant for a new ‘makerspace’.

The Fab9 makerspace, or ‘hackerspace’, at the Dream Factory will be run by Inspire9, in collaboration with Melbourne’s Protoworks and Philadelphia-based NextFab.

The membership-based space will have a core set of modern tools, such as 3D printers, laser cutters and an electronics lab with hardware and prototyping facilities.

It will also include a virtual reality lab, wood and metal shops, and a textile and fashion space with a focus on wearable technologies.

Inspire9 chief executive Mark Balla said the grant is part of a $6.5 million pool allocated to the first round of the state government’s new $60 million start-up initiative LaunchVic.

“We’re going to use the $650,000 grant to buy equipment, like really nice 3D printers, digital embroidery machines, laser cutters, welding equipment – all kinds of stuff you might use to make anything,” Mr Balla said.

“The aim is to give people who want to make something a place to do that – anything from hobbyists to small businesses trying to prototype something.”

 

Mark Bala of Inspire9 and Fab9; Snobal co-founder Ann Nolan and Fab9 co-founder Hans Chang. Photo: Damjan Janevski

Mark Bala of Inspire9 and Fab9; Snobal co-founder Ann Nolan and Fab9 co-founder Hans Chang. Photo: Damjan Janevski

Protoworks’ founder Hans Chang said creative co-working has been a success in Melbourne, and the makerspace will open exciting new doors.

“This is the first large-scale makerspace, with a focus on machinery that is more computer-controlled, digital fabrication, turning a design in a computer directly into manufacturing,” he said.

Small business, innovation and trade minister Philip Dalidakis said Fab9 is among projects that will help create jobs and industries to support Victoria for decades to come.

“Victoria is leading the country in start-up and small business growth, with around 8000 new businesses created in the last year alone.”