PHABLABS 4.0 aims to achieve a lasting, positive impact on the way photonics is integrated into the rapidly expanding ecosystem of European Fab Labs and Makerslabs, resulting in a larger and better skilled photonics workforce with superior innovation capacity in photonics to support the next revolution in digitization. Combining the forces of top experts from 11 European photonics institutes with the Fab Lab stakeholders, PHABLABS 4.0 will devise and deliver a comprehensive suite of 33 Photonics Workshops, 11 Photonics Challenger projects and Photonics Toolkits to enhance Fab Labs and Makerslab with photonics activities aimed at 3 specific target groups: young minds (10-14y), students (15y-18y) and young professionals and technicians. These activities, developed in PHABLABS 4.0, will be extensively tested in 14 existing Fab Labs with the purpose of rolling them out to the entire growing network of European Fab Labs as a proven model at the end of the project. They will stimulate hands-on design, fabrication, experiments, and the building of innovative systems with photonics, and in this way nurture the 21st Century skills of the participants in the PHABLABS 4.0 activities.
It is in the nature of the Fab Labs to stimulate creativity and innovation, and by providing photonics-enhanced toolkits, photonics innovation will naturally be stimulated all across of these innovation hubs. Especially when you give young professionals and technicians access to the right tools under the right guidance, with the opportunity and freedom to put their ideas into practice, innovative concepts and systems will be created and the overall innovation capacity of the workforce will be improved.
In that sense the PHABLABS 4.0 project will harness the power of the growing innovation ecosystem of the Fab Labs and equip it with sufficient material to really engage, excite and educate youngsters, students, technicians and young professionals alike in the skills of working and innovating with light. The ultimate impact of PHABLABS 4.0 will be seen in the emergence of a much larger and better trained workforce with 21st Century skills capable of translating the potential of photonics as a key enabling technology into tangible products for the benefit of society.
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) takes up the role as coordinator of PHABLABS 4.0. The VUB is represented by the Brussels Photonics Team (B-PHOT) which is an international centre of excellence in the domain of optics and photonics and internationally recognized for its basic, strategic, applied and industrial research in these fields.
FabLab Factory takes up the role as coordinator for the FabLabs. FabLab Factory is a company that offers services and equipment for schools, organisations and companies that want to start a makerspace. FabLab Factory is founded by Stijn De Mil.
The strength of this project is the teaming up of local photonics organizations with local Fab Labs. In PHABLABS 4.0 this teaming up will happen within 11 regions across 10 countries.
The PHABLABS 4.0 project will use the existing facilities of the Fab Labs ecosystem. During this project we are going to focus on 14 pilot Fab Labs in the 10 participating countries.
Special attention will be given to create gender-sensitive material for the “Photonics Workshops” and “Photonics Challenger Projects” that they gain the interest of girls in science.