Aalto University: Colliding students and startups in A Grid’s Omnia Makerspace

The Makerspace is run by Omnia, a large and modern education provider offering a wide range of services focusing on life-long learning. The Project Manager, Esko Lius, and host of the space, Siim Saar, have been involved in the project from the beginning.

“We were given an empty garage-type space and were asked to figure out what to do with it to collide students and startups. The beginning was small, just a couple 3D printers, but we have been able to develop the space based on feedback from startups and student groups”, says Saar.

Now, the space features a range of equipment and technology, from robots, 3D printers and VR sets to a proper studio space for podcasts, photographing and filming. In addition to being a place for working, experimenting and prototyping, the space is used for courses, workshops and different kinds of hackathons and events. The Makerspace is open for anyone, but the main user groups are Omnia students and A Grid startups.

Feedback and recruitment opportunities for startups
For A Grid startups, Makerspace offers a valuable opportunity to find employees or interns among Omnia’s students, who might already have work experience on the field. It is also possible to participate in different kinds of course co-operations, hackathons and other events, for example to receive feedback on a service or product.

“The main idea is to organize courses and events where the equipment of the space can be utilized. We invite companies and students of the field to come together and see what happens when they interact. The students get credits and the companies get user experience and feedback on their products and services”, Saar explains.

The best outcome of the Makerspace’s activities is to get a student employed in one of the co-operating startups. Saar concludes: “The best moments have been when students discuss with companies presenting their know-how, and get the companies excited about it – these are really nice moments in my opinion.”

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