Pangloss @ #UNHCRNGOs

On June 14th 2017, representatives from Pangloss Labs were invited to participate to the UNHCR annual consultation with NGOs.  From the sustainable development innovation lab, Paul, Charlie & Gianluca decided to dedicate one day to this.  With our partners from the Global Humanitarian Lab (based at the Palais de Nations), we exhibited some of the things that digital fabrication – and more importantly the entrepreneurial, problem solving mindset around it – could enable in refugee environments.   

It was an eye-opening day for all of us, and each of us decided to tell the story in our own words.

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Pangloss Labs in Geneva

On the 12th of January a small, determined group met at Pangloss Labs in Ferney-Voltaire to discuss why there isn’t yet a Pangloss Labs Geneva site and what to do about it.
In a nutshell, although we have found some spaces in Geneva that meet our original half office / half workshop criteria, they are very few and far between.  With the rent costs being much higher in Geneva than neighbouring France, to replicate directly what we did in France would need 45 people willing to pay a proportion of the rent, before we have the space.   In addition, leases in Geneva tend to start at 5 years.  With some of the offers we have, on projects under development, we’d need 45 people willing to commit to contribute to a collaborative association for 5 years, starting in 1-2 years time.  That’s almost impossible to do.

So, with the facts on the table, and with the aid of some decent French wine, we brainstormed on the possible ways forward.  With lots of whiteboards, and different experiences and backgrounds we came up with the following plan:

  1. Make a list of all the spaces and similar initiatives around innovation in Grand Geneva.  Create working partnerships where possible.
  2. Simultaneously, use co-creation to decide amongst our Pangloss Labs community in Geneva, which set of Innovation Labs make sense for them.  This may well be a very different set from the 10 chosen in the Pays de Gex.
  3. Build up the space requirements for each Innovation Lab.  See if each Lab can start using time and space in existing physical spaces around Geneva.  If so, partner with the appropriate physical space, and do that, resulting in a win-win for Pangloss members and existing physical spaces, along with cross fertilisation between communities.

This doesn’t solve the problem of a large maker space in Geneva, but it does solve the problem of how to get the other Innovation Labs really working for those members unable to easily get to Ferney-Voltaire and it provides something concrete as a partnership with our other innovation space friends around Geneva.

Once things are up and running, we can decide if we need another physical space in Geneva, or if working collaboratively with existing spaces is sufficient.

What do you think?

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