Double first! For the first time, not just a city but an entire country is a candidate to host the FAB14 conference in 2018. Another first, France is bidding to host the international Fablab Conference under the guidance of MIT’s Fab Foundation. On July 20, Toulouse fablab Artilect, the French network of fablabs (RFFLabs) and the Fab City Grand Paris collective (Woma, Volumes, Arts codés and Ouishare) met at Woma in Paris to announce their bid and appeal for support.
Nothing should be taken for granted. Usually, it’s a city (Barcelona in 2014, Boston in 2015, Shenzhen in 2016, Santiago, Chile in 2017) that hosts the Fab Conference. London, Montreal and Cairo are also candidates. Toulouse, boosted by its historic involvement in the French maker movement, had already applied. In May, the Paris labs that came to the Fablab Festival in Toulouse announced their desire to be a part of the bid, in order to strengthen their gestating Fabcity. And this same Fabfest in Toulouse engendered the French network of fablabs (RFFLabs), which advocated for a distributed Fab Conference. Olivier Gendrin, RFFLabs’s fresh new president, elbowed his way up to give France—the country with the second-most MIT-approved fablabs (83)—the opportunity to promote and strengthen its own fab network.
The idea of France as a host has come a long way. Ideally, the main part of the Fab Conference week, from Monday to Friday, would take place in Toulouse: “We’ll do the heavy lifting, as we’re the most advanced in terms of public and private funding,” says Artilect’s Nicolas Lassabe. The weekend (generally open to the public) will be open “all over France”, like a Fablab Festival, adds Olivier Gendrin. And on the Monday and Tuesday of the following week, a series of workshops and talks will make up the Fabcity seminar in Paris.
While unconventional, France’s bid just might have a good chance of winning against London, currently divided, and Montreal, very well organized in comparison… but situated in North America. Because the Fab Foundation makes an effort to alternate destinations: China this year, the birthplace of MIT last year, South America next year… When it comes to Cairo, even if one of the Fab Foundation’s goals is to support the maker movement in Africa, Egypt’s political instability and economic difficulty are considerable weak points. The host candidates for FAB14 will present their projects in Shenzhen and the winner will be decided by the end of FAB12. To be continued…
France’s bid to host FAB14 (in French)