re:view – GIG: Tinkering, Inventing and Collaborating Internationally

For five years now, it’s been all about getting hands on at the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) makerspace: upcycling workshops and a mobile makerspace were just some of the GIG highlights at #rp17.

Once again, the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) provided a space at re:publica for international managers, hackers and entrepreneurs to come together. The GIG offers a framework for presenting innovation projects, especially from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The programme ranges from a project for reporting extra judicial killings in the Philippines to mHealth solutions for prenatal care. The topics at the GIG aren’t covered in long-winded talks, but are instead presented in such a way as to motivate the visitors to become active themselves.

“Trash is not a local problem, but a global one” is the reasoning behind Marios Mouratidis’ motivation in his fight against our throw-away society, while his colleague from the University of Siegen, Anne Weibert, showed participants of the “Upcycling@come_In Workshop” how to make individually designed wallets from plastic bags. The students from Siegen are taking a stand against the disposable culture of today: one person’s trash is an upcycler’s gold. Following a short tutorial by the students, the participants became an organic flurry of hands and irons. It’s the getting hands-on part, the designing, the “not beating around the bush”, the actual making itself that constitutes the GIG makerspace as such a special element.


The "Open for the 99% Workshop for inclusive products + communities" by Vanessa Gennarelli, Instructional Designer at GitHub, confirmed this idea. Instead of standing in front of her audience to deliver her talk, Genarelli spoke to each participant individually before her session and asked them about their current projects. Using her Wide-Minded Design Framework as a reference, she illustrated her personal approach to inclusive products and communities to the innovators and other interested workshop participants. Gennarelli uses small tasks to encourage the optimisation of one’s own ideas and structures. Innovators and start-ups can get support for their companies from so-called accelerators. Yatan Blumenthal Vargos, Alexander Hafner and Jörg Reinboldt discussed the future of these “start-up accelerators” in the “The end of Accelerators as we know it” session.

The LabMobile, the mobile makerspace at the GIG, was a real eye-catcher at re:publica 2017: a converted sprinter cargo van that had everything an innovator could need – from a sleeping space to your own personal work bench. The idea behind it is as simple as it is ingenious: creating something big from a small space. Following re:publica, the MobileLab will head out on a world trip: re:publica visitors were able indicate their preferred stops for the “Makervan” tour on a bulletin board on the outside of the sprinter. We look forward to next year and hearing the stories from the tour!

by Miriam Seyd (FF)

Photo credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer; Jan Michalko(CC BY-SA 2.0)