Odisha’s Innovation and Heritage Future: Insights from Utkal Fab Fest 2023
In November 2023, Startup Odisha orchestrated the Utkal Fab Fest 2023, bringing together Fab Foundation and Fab City Foundation delegates with local startups, incubators, and other diverse participants from Odisha’s innovation ecosystem. The event’s aim was to engage in activities spotlighting Odisha’s digital fabrication prospects and to socialize concepts of Fab and Fab Cities with various local stakeholders. It was also an opportunity for delegates from the international organisations to visit players in the local startup, innovation, handicrafts and manufacturing landscape.
Kick-off Event at Startup Odisha, O-Hub
The event encompassed talks, workshops, and exhibitions, to kick-start a state-level Fab strategy. Dr. Omkar Rai, Executive Chairman of Startup Odisha, unveiled an ambitious plan to establish a State Super Fab Lab that will connect various R&D Institutions, Fab Labs, Incubators, Centre of Excellences in a hub-and-spoke model in order to boost economic opportunities and establish Odisha as a knowledge creation centre globally.
Sherry Lassiter, CEO of Fab Foundation, stressed the economic significance of expanding the Fab Lab network in Odisha, highlighting opportunities for startups and incubators to leverage this network for growth. Luciano Betoldi, VP & COO of Fab Foundation, featured the immense potential of Fab Labs as catalysts for grassroots innovation and regional collaboration, emphasizing their pivotal role in nurturing a thriving innovation ecosystem.
Kate Armstrong, Fab City Foundation Executive Board Strategy Director, shared the Fab City initiative as an innovative urban model that relocalises production to the city and its bioregional context, by empowering communities with the technology to build their own sustainable, innovative, and regenerative urban futures. While Tomas Diez, Executive Director of Fab City Foundation, explained the pivotal role of Fab Cities, the significance of local fabrication and its impact on the local economy and global plantery crisis. He emphasized how Fab City Hubs promote cultural sensitivity and problem-solving at a community level.
Professor Neil Gershenfeld, from the Centre of Bits and Atoms at MIT, shared a vision for FabLab 3.0 during the event. His insights emphasized the evolving landscape of fabrication and its potential to revolutionize local and global manufacturing.
Workshops on Ecosystem Mapping and Co-Creation led by Mitalee Parikh aimed to lay out the local ecological and social contexts of Bhubaneswar and Odisha to aid future plans in programming for future joint projects with Startup Odisha. Participants from the startups, incubators, and other makerspaces, research and academic institutions provided enriching insights of Odisha’s culture, society, natural resources, climate, and organisational structures.
Sibu Saman, International Deployment Consultant with Fab Foundation visited the potential site for a Fab Lab facility. The site will deploy Fab Academy, a training programme in principles and applications of digital fabrication.
The student exhibition at the Utkal Fab Fest was a varied showcase of the fabricating ability of Odisha’s youth, their inclination toward finding innovative & disruptive solutions in various fields and entrepreneurial drive.
Tours and visits
The delegates visited prominent institutions across the state, including DST Nidhi Centre of Excellence at Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology KIIT-TBI, Nalanda Institute of Technology, STPI: Software Technology Parks of India, CIPET:SARP-Laboratory for Advanced Research in Polymeric Materials (LARPM), Trident Academy of Technology, and CTTC – Central Tool Room Training Center. These tours offered valuable insights into the research, advancements, and practices of these institutions. Over a couple of days, the delegates explored Odisha’s cultural heritage through visits to handicraft clusters. They experienced Filigiri Silver Art, Brass cookware making, Pattachitra art, Palm Leaf Engraving, Stone sculpture, Applique Fabric Craft, and Gotipua dance. These visits showcased Odisha’s craftsmanship, artistic traditions, and the government’s support in preserving and promoting traditional knowledge and crafts.
The Utkal Fab Fest showcased Odisha’s rich innovation and cultural heritage through visits and engagement activities. This event served as an immersive onboarding for the global networks into Startup Odisha’s state-level Fab strategy, with plans underway to establish a Super Fab Lab at O-Hub, and Omkar Rai, executive chairman of Startup Odisha further announced hosting the internationally acclaimed Fab Academy at O-Hub to train and unite researchers, artisans, entrepreneurs and startups within Odisha’s fabrication ecosystem.
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