Makerspace launched at Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali

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A makerspace has been launched at the Kigali-based Westerwelle Startup Haus co-working space to assist founders in designing and developing 3D prototypes.

Disrupt Africa reported in October German organisations the Westerwelle Foundation and Evonik Foundation had launched the Westerwelle Startup Haus, aimed at providing a central meeting and support place for startups in Kigali.

The Startup Haus covers 1,200 square metres of space – featuring a flexible co-working area with 150 desks, and now also a makerspace with a focus on product design and innovation. The makerspace offers a variety of focused workstations, and uses an app to instruct founders on how to use the 3D printers.

After successfully completing the app-based training and gaining access to the makerspace, founders are able to design and develop 3D prototypes with the available cutting-edge technology.

“There are many startup houses worldwide, but hardly any other house has such a well-equipped makerspace. However, let’s be honest, what we have here is a room full of equipment. That’s an excellent starting point, and to bring this to a true success, this must become a place where people know they can gather and work together to make their vision reality,” said Dr Heike Bergandt, managing director of Evonik Stiftung, at the launch event.

Westerwelle Startup Haus programme manager Guido von Westerholt said the makerspace aimed to increase the focus on design thinking amongst entrepreneurs.

“The wide variety of practical learning possibilities is to improve the education services for many and offer them a chance to a good employment opportunity in their home country,” he said.

Prior to the opening, the makerspace team organised a two-day workshop and developed an aquaponics system which uses 90 per cent less water than traditional farming techniques.

“It was important to us to show the invited guests what diverse possibilities we are offering in the Makerspace Kigali. Furthermore, the workshop was the beginning of partnerships here in Rwanda that will hopefully strive to support young product designers to turn their visions into reality thereby creating new innovations,” said von Westerholt.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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