create an open lab

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Definition: an open lab is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests and goals can meet, socialize and collaborate (examples: fab labs, makerspaces, coworking spaces, hacker spaces, and OVN spaces ...)

You want to create an open lab? You have an open lab and want to adopt the OVN model and perhaps join our larger ecosystem? Here you can learn how, or get the help you need.

See the Sensorica Montreal lab.


Sensorica can provide assistance to rapidly establish a local lab in exchange of a fixed financial contribution to the community.

Service package

  • Acquisition and installation of equipment

  • Mobilisation and capacity building

  • Training for running the lab

  • Governance: rules, legal structure

  • IT infrastructure

  • Economic / business model


  • Cost of equipment (variable, based on the vocation of the lab)

  • Consultancy costs ($25K USD)

    • Training (lab administration, governance, IT infrastructure, procedures, equipment (operation and safety), collaborative business models)

    • Operations support: IT infrastructure, governance and procedures (best practices)

    • Outreach and community building support

    • Ongoing, problem-based assistance


Phase 1 - initialisation, mobilization and capacity building (2 months)

This phase starts by establishing a baseline survey to understand the needs of the local community, which will determine the vocation of the lab. The local community will be mobilized to identify initial participants and stakeholders. A training program will be conducted for the mobilized participants and stakeholders, tailored to the characteristics of your future lab. If needed, founding sources will be identified and funding proposals will be drafted. If not already secured, a location will be specified and identified. We will also build the IT infrastructure, a minimal governance and establish some key procedures.

Phase 2 - Establishment and Operationalisation (4 months)

During this phase, the lab space will be designed, equipment will be installed and training programs will be conducted, the legal structure will be created.

Phase 3 - Economic / Business model

Establishment and consolidation of various activities that will ensure the sustainability of the lab (revenue generation and others).


! Under development ...

CAUTION: Starting up a new open lab or a new OVN requires a lot of experience and know-how. Mistakes can be very costly. We strongly encourage you to contact us for support.

Design considerations

Decide on the vocation of your open space. This determines what's in the space, how it is arranged, safety and security features, governance, economic model, etc.

Take the following characteristics into consideration in your design process.

  • Transparent: provide easy access to information about activities contained within

  • Open: provide easy access to participation in activities

  • Shared: makes cohabitation easy, contains shareable materials, tools and equipment

  • Collaborative: foster collaborative behavior

  • Modular: can easily be modified to accommodate new activities

  • add others...

Read about Legolab and Labonline.


Design and implement the following processes:

  • Outreach (visibility, communication, value proposition) - how do I know that you exist and why would I pay attention?

  • On boarding - how do I join?

    • Greeting (welcome, presentation, demo, orientation) - my first interaction and impression?

    • Joining (granting credentials, membership) - how do I join?

    • Facilitation (orientation, help, support) - how do I do stuff?

  • Leaving - what happens if I become inactive or quit?


Design signalization, consider function, safety and security. See examples.


Define support roles with responsibilities and benefits (example from Sensorica lab).

Define important tasks to maintain the space and the community, consider incentives, adopt a task management tool (Ex. Trello).

Define important procedures and methodologies. Get more information from the administration of the Sensorica lab.


Think about the various types of resources that you need to gather and allocate

  • Tangible

      • Material: consumables, tools, equipment, furniture, space

      • Currency: money, tokens

  • Intangible

      • Branding

With respect to the lifetime: kick start --> roll --> close/re-purpose

Use this template to create a budget, in case you want to drive a funding campaign.

IT tools

  • Documentation - any open and shared service, can be Google Drive, in conjunction with an integration and aggregation tool such as a website (Google Sites for example).

  • Coordination - any open and shared service, can be Google Calendar, Trello, etc

  • Contribution accounting system - See Sensorica's NRP-CAS

  • Planning - see Sensorica's Trello, also use the NRP-CAS

  • Inventory - see Sensorica's inventory using the NRP-CAS

  • Decision making - See Loomio

  • add others...


Formulate lab access rules - get inspired from Sensorica lab rules.

If you sublet space, subleasing agreement - remix from Sensoirca's template.

Formalize relation with a Custodian - remix from Sensorica's template (under development).

Endogenous project governance - remix from Sensorica's template.

Service project governance - remix from Sensorica's template.

Custodian Agreement for projects - remix from Sensorica's template.

Deal with for-profit organisations - open Sensorica's doc.

Partnership and memorandum of understanding - remix from Sensorica's template.

Open Innovation Partnership Agreement - remix from Sensorica's template.

Exchange Firm Agreement for projects - remix from Sensorica's template.

Some presentations

The future of academia

Collaborative entrepreneurship

Presentation to MESI - what is the collaborative economy

Other initiatives

other sources of inspiration