In two days, New Lab
, a new makerspace with flexible memberships, will open in Brooklyn on the site of what was once an early 20th century shipbuilding factory. It's a large public-private partnership that is aligned with city programmes supporting the tech industry whilst focusing on the small manufacturing movement that's been growing over the last few years.
I strongly believe this type of economic development investment is needed in London and particularly in outer London. The explosion in co-working and flexible workspaces has been positive in bringing vibrancy and an infusion of creative talent into east London neighbourhoods (although this has come with the challenges of gentrification). However, this growth is often strongest in Central and East Central London and has yet to filter out to neighbourhoods in Outer London that are in need of investment and regeneration.
Our work in regeneration and in Outer London has identified strong industrial assets in places like Enfield. Spaces such as those available in Merdian Water represent great opportunities to develop New Lab-type spaces for small manufacturers to access 3D printers, laser cutters, and encourage potential collaboration with other members. New makerspaces could also align with the Mayor's strategy for promoting London's science and technology sector
to ensure that SMEs have space to move on to once they get bigger.
New Lab represents the innovative economic future of how to incorporate manufacturing space, technology, and flexible workspaces in a dense urban environment. I believe London would be wise to take note.