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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Fab in West Lakes Academy Lab

STUDENTS, community leaders and local businesses took part in the launch of Cumbria’s first Fab Labs.

By Clare Fuller

The two facilities, based in Egremont and Cockermouth, are designed to support innovation and new inventions.

The fabrication laboratories, owned by Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC), will provide businesses, entrepreneurs, schools and community groups access to cutting-edge equipment to develop ideas, products and prototypes.

They include the likes of precision laser cutters to 3D digital printers.

Egremont’s lab is the UK’s first to be based in a school at West Lakes Academy.

They are two of only 10 Fab Labs in the UK and are a mixture of laboratory and workshop space where people can turn creative ideas and designs into products.

Vanessa Ray, the academy’s principal, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity to be the first school nationally to directly host a Fab Lab facility.

“As well as giving our students the experience of using the specialist equipment, it also allows us to engage with the local community and explore how we can better support employers’ recruitment strategies of young people.

“The students of the academy are extremely fortunate to benefit from an unusually high level of resource and are pleased to share this resource, through the vehicle of Fab Lab with people in the local community.

“We hope the facilities provided by the Fab Lab will be in constant use.”

BEC has ploughed £200,000 into the venture along with funding from The Sir John Fisher Foundation and Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) through the Solway, Border and Eden Local Action Group.

Steven Szostak, chief executive of BEC, said: “Fab Labs are an international initiative and West Cumbria now has two. They will breath new life into the region.

“They will play a significant role in West Cumbria’s future economic prosperity and are places where innovation can happen – meeting the needs of students, business start-ups and the community.”

Users will have access to on-hand expert support through the BEC business support team and the Innovus development programme.

Danny Frost, Fab Lab manager, said the facilities will be free to use with the chance to hire the equipment and materials needed to make products.

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