Sarah King talks us through her passion for design, challenges faced by industry and the good news for regional businesses.
Where it all began…
My career has been based largely in technical support at degree level covering the practice of surface design and print. Over the last few years I have also worked on a freelance bases within the creative design industry.
My passion for surface design and print knows no bounds, but I faced many hurdles chasing my dream. When I first moved to Birmingham and began the process of setting up my own business, I found there were virtually no facilities that offered access to equipment and business support.
I was really seeking technical input from specialists, in areas of practice I was not familiar with in order to re-examine my production processes and find the most effective solutions for manufacturing.
My desire to join the STEAMhouse team stemmed from this, as it’s so exciting to have found a much needed makerspace where you can not only access business support, but collaborate with specialists.
I think it is important for such a large city to encourage a movement that looks to support business start-up and growth, offer a space for open conversation and build a community of collaborative success stories.
Why I champion STEAM for businesses….
(‘What is STEAM?’ We hear you ask. When the STEM-based subjects meet art, the interaction creates STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths: a potent concoction, ripe for collaboration. These are, more than ever, the components that forward-thinking businesses must adopt. They’re traditional disciplines, but now with a hat tip to the creative.)
In my opinion STEAMhouse creates an agenda for joint thinking, giving siloed individuals and sectors the chance to expand their knowledge and effectively problem solve by injecting the concept of design thinking into the conversation.
From the perspective of established businesses, sole traders, graduates and start-ups, STEAMhouse is the building block that provides them with technical expertise, business support and prototyping facilities to start and grow their businesses.
Through the open route, a heavy emphasis is placed on practical skills transfer, with the production space running in-depth inductions into all four of the workshops onsite. Members have the opportunity to learn the tools needed to self-prototype as well as understand each processes’ technical restrictions.
Through their method exploration, the process of collaboration naturally occurs throughout their time in the space as they move fluidly through the different workshops and develop ways of working that see specialisms intersect and overlap.
This in turn, creates a breeding ground for innovation. For a business this could mean innovation around effective and efficient ways to produce their goods OR innovation of the purpose or use of the product itself.
Innovation is crucial to the initial and continuing success of a business, through STEAMhouse, businesses have the opportunity to openly innovate within knowledgeable support networks.
In short, STEAMhouse connects people and businesses with the support they need to grow.
A boost for Birmingham business…
For me joining STEAMhouse was the opportunity to be part of a collaborative space which offered all the key resources I had been searching for when starting my own business. For a business at any stage this facility has something to offer in terms of support and growth.
For the city it is providing a meeting point, a place where key issues can be tackled, where connections can be made and knowledge is rich and accessible.
The facility has a strong ethos based around collaboration and an open minded approach to problem solving, this underpins everything we do and helps to create an environment where people become less precious and open to sharing their knowledge.
On a practical level the technical knowledge onsite and in particular the cross disciplinary backgrounds of all the workshop staff
means that collaboration between the workshops is seamless. There is also a wealth of knowledge around manufacturing and outsourcing meaning that guidance can be given to business as they look to sub contract production and expand.
It is refreshing to see some of the business who usually work very much in silo coming into this facility and being captivated by the possibilities of the program, the equipment and the opportunity to learn new skills and develop.
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