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Nesta Publishes Giant UK Makerspace Study Dataset

Gareth Halfacree

Nesta - the charity formerly known as the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts and responsible for the illuminating report into children's desire to join maker culture we highlighted back in March - has published its research into UK makerspaces, demonstrating their remarkable growth over the last decade. For those not familiar with the term, a makerspace or hackspace is a collaborative environment for makers to gather primarily for social reasons but also as a means for education and access to tools - such as large-format laser-cutters, 3D printers and CNC mills - which are considered impractical or too expensive for use in the home. In total, Nesta studied 97 makerspaces and hackspaces across the UK, the majority being located in England. More interesting is its analysis of when the spaces first appeared: from a single hackspace opening in 2006, makerspaces have grown at a rapid pace which shows no sign of slowing. We're a little biased, having contributed to the study via the UK Maker Belt Association (UKMBA), but we think the full dataset - a user's guide for which is available as a PDF download - is full of fascinating data for anyone interested in maker culture, while those who would prefer more easily-digestible information should have a look at the top findings including the discovery of the UK's smallest makerspace at just 11m². The full dataset is available on Nesta's website, and if you use it for anything exciting let the charity know - and drop us a line while you're at it.

Our goal from the beginning has been to build something useful and usable for makerspaces, researchers, and anyone with a general curiosity. Along the way, we’ve gathered identifiable data on makerspaces’ locations, space, tools and materials, membership and users, amenities and services, external relationships, legal structure and founders, as well as aspirations and challenges. There’s also some anonymised data on makerspace turnover, income, expenditure and business rates.

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