Industrial Makerspace


Idea and purpose

An industrial makerspace is a fixed space in an organization, which is decoupled from and does not interfere with day-to-day routines and where innovative technologies can be applied and tested. It is a permanent space for playful knowledge acquirement. Innovative technologies (which may change in the course of time) are used in this separated space and interested employees can test them, create knowledge and use it back in their day-to-day work routines.



An industrial makerspace fits to stable organizational structures and requires technical infrastructure and the financial resources to invest in innovative technologies that are not directly linked to production process but first used in this environment. Furthermore, the employees need time at their discretion to use the space. This resource-intensive structure is facilitated by a culture of openness towards new approaches in the organization, as well as  willingness and effort to maintain the peculiarities of an industrial makerspace over time, e.g. through adding innovative technologies.



Within the organization, one unit is responsible for setting up and maintaining the space, and selecting innovative approaches that are exhibited. Employees from different departments are involved as users.


Temporal and spatial structure

The industrial makerspace is a fixed and long-term space in an organization, which changes over time and serves as an institutionalized space of exception (compared to day-to-day business).



Before the industrial makerspace is set up, innovative technologies and appropriate intra-organizational conditions are identified. Some of these conditions include providing employees an appropriate way to engage within the exceptional space or finding a suitable place to set up the industrial makerspace. Then a defined unit in the organization sets up and maintains the space, giving introductions to the exhibited innovative technologies and replacing them over time if needed.


Use case

A medium-sized plant engineering and construction company with about 200 employees faces the challenge of a skill shortage. To support employees in engaging with new tasks, technical systems to facilitate knowledge transfer should be tested at the workplace. Before doing this, the management decides on implementing an industrial makerspace, in which new processes and technologies are tested internally and shown to visitors and business partners.

The industrial makerspace provides innovative technologies such as a pick-by-light or a virtual-reality-solution in order to create a worker guidance system. The approaches and technologies in this place are changed and adjusted in the course of time. New insights are gathered regarding the challenge, to give leeway to the employees and  enable them to actually use the industrial makerspace, while making sure that daily work routines are not neglected: The incentive system in the organization focussed mainly on production (and not innovative ways of learning).



  • Cartel et al (2018): Just for fun! How experimental spaces stimulate innovation in institutionalized fields. Organization Studies.
  • Cohen_Levinthal-1990-Absorptive Capacity