CoMotion: Leveraging synergies with an innovation mindset

Written by CoMotion Staff / November 8, 2019

We would like to share some changes that will be taking place in the coming months with regard to CoMotion spaces.

In the spirit of innovation, CoMotion continuously evaluates and refines its offerings and services. Five years ago, CoMotion identified a need for a dedicated Makerspace on the UW campus that would be accessible to students, faculty and staff regardless of discipline. Our goal – to encourage an innovation mindset – has been a resounding success: in that time, over 10,000 students have accessed the space.

Today, new makerspaces have popped up across campus. These include The Mill in McCarty Residence Hall and Area 01 in Maple Hall. This month, the College of Engineering, the College of Arts & Sciences, and Housing & Food Services opened The 8 in McMahon Hall, a nearly 30,000-square foot multi-use community center that includes a wood shop, machine shop, and student workspace. We are thrilled at the expansion of makerspaces across campus and the commitment that the College of Engineering has made to continue to provide these services.

Given these  developments, CoMotion will reconfigure MakerSpace and incubation efforts to take advantage of emerging synergies, better utilize current spaces, and increase our ability to support spinoffs in markets where we see high demand.

First, we will transform the current CoMotion MakerSpace located in Fluke Hall, consolidating services into a new incubator and cleanroom in partnership with the College of Engineering and the Washington Nanofabrication Facility (WNF). This will be a space for UW spinoffs and startups with a focus on hardware and heavy prototyping. The WNF’s prototyping cleanroom will house basic lithography and fabrication tools that will be available to students and researchers on a recharge basis. It will lower the barrier to nanofabrication by providing easy entry by supporting educational activities. In addition to access to this new facility, Incubator members will enjoy the proximity of WNF, founders’ labs, and the synergies created by co-location with CoMotion Labs @ Fluke Hall, our wet lab incubator. Member offerings, such as the CoMotion training programs and mentorship, will continue. The CoMotion Makerspace will close on December 31 to begin renovations.

Second, we will be closing CoMotion Labs @ HQ, located on the third floor of 4545 Roosevelt Way, and relocate members into our existing and new spaces, which includes CoMotion Labs @ Startup Hall, CoMotion Labs @ Fluke Hall (3rd floor), and the new hardware-oriented incubator @ Fluke Hall (2nd floor).

We look forward to these exciting new developments and will have more updates to share in the New Year.

Answering questions about the future of the CoMotion Makerspace and CoMotion Labs incubator spaces

Q: What exists now?

A: The CoMotion MakerSpace currently located on the second floor of Fluke Hall provides a wide range of tools and resources to build and prototype ideas. It includes sewing machines, VR headsets, woodworking tools, and 3D printers. It offers free access to UW students, faculty, and staff, and paid access to UW affiliates and the general public. It has been in operation since 2015.

One of our three CoMotion Labs incubators, known as CoMotion Labs @ HQ, is currently located at 4545 Roosevelt Way NE on the third floor and focuses on emerging technologies, AR/VR, and robotics. It has been in operation since 2016. About 10 startups are currently located there.

Q: What is changing?

A: The CoMotion MakerSpace will close at the end of December in order to begin renovations to turn it into a new CoMotion Labs incubator focused on hardware and advanced prototyping.

CoMotion Labs @ HQ will close at the end of January and members will be relocated to the new incubator space (currently occupied by the CoMotion Makerspace on the second floor of Fluke Hall), or to one of our two other CoMotion Labs locations (Startup Hall or Fluke Hall, third floor).

Q: Why is it changing?

A: As a service to the university community, we are always evaluating our programs, services and offerings to ensure the best and most efficient use of limited financial resources. Our goal is to better utilize our current spaces and increase our ability to support startups in markets where we see high demand.

With the addition of new makerspaces on the UW campus, we believe that campus, specifically the College of the Engineering in collaboration with College of Arts & Sciences, and Housing & Food Services, is well poised to continue advancing these services to students. Concurrently, we recognized an emerging need from our researchers and startup members to have access to space for hardware and advanced prototyping companies. We believe we are uniquely suited to offer this service within the university, in partnership with the Washington Nanofabrication Facility (WNF) and the College of Engineering.

The CoMotion Labs incubator at CoMotion HQ is moving to the second floor of Fluke Hall so it can be co-located with the WNF and near the existing CoMotion Labs @ Fluke Hall incubator on the third floor.

Q: What other makerspaces are available now?

There are currently three makerspaces available on the UW Seattle campus. These include The Mill in McCarty Residence Hall and Area 01 in Maple Hall. This month, the College of Engineering, the College of Arts & Sciences and Housing & Food Services opened The 8 in McMahon Hall, a nearly 30,000-square foot multi-use community center that includes a wood shop, machine shop and student workspace. We believe the new McMahon 8 makerspace is a fitting replacement for the CoMotion Makerspace, both in terms of access, proximity, and quality of service. We are thrilled at the expansion of makerspaces across campus and the commitment that the College of Engineering has made to continue to provide these services.

Q: What will be available next year, and for whom, once these changes are complete?

A: Starting in late spring 2020, a new CoMotion Labs incubator and cleanroom will open in partnership with the College of Engineering and the Washington Nanofabrication Facility (WNF). This will be a space for UW spinoffs and startups with a focus on hardware and advanced prototyping. The WNF’s prototyping cleanroom will house basic lithography and fabrication tools that will be available to students and researchers on a recharge basis. It will lower the barrier to nanofabrication by providing easy entry by supporting educational activities. In addition to access to this new facility, Incubator members will enjoy the proximity of the WNF, founders’ labs, and the synergies created by co-location with CoMotion Labs @ Fluke Hall, our wet lab incubator. Member offerings, such as the CoMotion training programs and mentorship, will continue.

Benefits for CoMotion Labs members do not change. Benefits include access to training, mentoring, networking, equipment, funding opportunities, as well as space. The University prioritizes UW spinoffs and startups for space within our three CoMotion Labs incubators, but the Labs are also open to non-UW startups on a space-available basis. Outside entrepreneurs and innovators who are not CoMotion Labs members will still have access to our public events, such as Fundamentals for Startups.

Q: Are there any makerspaces on the UW campus that will be open to the public once the CoMotion MakerSpace closes?

A: Not at this time. Other makerspaces in the Seattle area open to the general public include Seattle Makers, ALTSpace, and Bellevue Library ideaX Makerspace.

Q: How are you easing this transition?

A: We are working very closely with the College of Engineering to minimize impact on students. In particular, we will make sure that current users know where they can find the equipment and capabilities they need, and we plan to transfer the tools acquired through the Student Technology Fee (STF) funding to the other campus makerspaces so they continue to benefit students and a multitude of creative endeavors. Select equipment purchased by CoMotion may remain in place to benefit the Labs members, College of Engineering, and WNF researchers and students.

Q: What percentage of CoMotion Makerspace users participated via the paid access option for the general public for $300 per quarter?

A: Less than 7% over the past year.