Santa Needs Maker Microfactories
By Dale Dougherty
December 23, 2022
0:00 / 33:13
Santa Needs Maker Microfactories
Dale

You can imagine how it is at the north pole this time of year. The elves are overworked and they're running behind. Getting all the required materials to the north pole is really hard with the supply chain problems. And then Santa has to distribute everything in a 24 hour time span around the globe. Plus, you know, a lot of the toys and goodies on the way or the same old toys and goodies that we've had for years. And there's not a lot of innovation going on in Santa's workshop.

Santa, if you're listening, I'd like you to consider investing in maker micro factories, places like the one we learn about in this episode.

This one is called Inventopia, and it's located in Davis, California in the neighborhood of one of the largest research universities in the world. The Santa of Inventopia is Tim Keller. And he has entrepreneurs instead of elves working to bring new product ideas to life. Sure like your elves, they spend long hours working, but they are happily prototyping and producing new things often using new processes. Tim knows to stay out of their way and help them only if they ask for it.

So Santa, you should really talk to Tim Keller, as I did in this episode. Tim knows nothing of this bigger plan but I think you can see the possibilities. If you follow Tim's example, you'd forget about the single facility you have in the north pole. You'd build Santatopia, not one but many and have them everywhere in the world. You'd not only have new toys and goodies to meet the changing demands of children everywhere. But you'd be creating new toy makers and harnessing all kinds of technical and creative talent around the world. Think of it, Santa. Santatopia, a network of maker microfactories for future Christmases.

I'd be happy to make an introduction to Tim. I think you'd like him.

Dale

Welcome to Make Cast.

I'm Dale Dougherty with Make Magazine and I'm talking to Tim Keller. Tim is from Inventopia in Davis. Welcome.

Tim

Pleasure to be here.

Dale

. I visited Inventopia a couple weeks ago. You had a Makeathon going on there, which we'll talk about. You are in Davis. You are located nearby University of California at Davis, and you have what, you've called a microfactory. So explain what Inventopia is, how you came up with the idea and how it got started.

Tim

Yeah, so Inventopia is something that like all good inventions, you think you invented something and then start looking around, you realize other people have done it. We're a lot like TechShop was. We look a lot like a makerspace, but we are for startup companies. And so I call it a microfactory because this would distinguish it because makerspaces tend to be like STEM education, arts and crafts, DIY kind of focused. We are entrepreneurship focused. UC Davis is a research university. Unlike most colleges, it specifically gets money to do research, which is then supposed to be translated into products and into other things that help society. There's about a billion dollars worth of research being done here.