The Columbus Idea Foundry opens its new 60,000 square-foot home at 421 W. State St. in Franklinton today, making it one of the largest makerspaces in the world.
The CIF is one of the increasing number of creative spaces located in Franklinton. With neighbors like 400 W. Rich, COSI and Glass Axis. “Now you have a real center of gravity that is pulling in a density of creative and entrepreneurial organizations that I think is extremely exciting,” says Alex Bandar, owner of the Columbus Idea Foundry.
The CIF brings a mix of technology, design and creativity to the neighborhood through the multitude of crafts housed within their space. “One of my favorite things to do here is to see how you can blend the old-world craft techniques with modern technology,” Bandar says.
The mix is evident with areas dedicated to 3D and laser printing, welding, woodworking, woodturning, blacksmithing and metal casting, metal fabrication and jewelry making. In addition, the CIF has a wetroom for tile, granite and clay work, as well as computer and electronics rooms. It’s all the same workstations as the previous space, but in vastly expanded areas.
The move has allowed the CIF to create a space that better serves its members, while also opening the door for Bandar’s long-term goals of what he envisions the space to be.
First is an expanded co-fabbing area where members can rent a workbench for a day, week or month. A creative might spend a few weeks formulating an idea and gathering materials, but only need a few days or weeks to fabricate it.
A large, open second floor holds the key to what will further drive the CIF as an innovative space.
“The second floor really represents a place that we can expand into a sphere that I’ve wanted to get into but haven’t been able to at the current space, which is more information technology services, more events where we bring folks into the space, where we’ll have a large safe place to bring 50 to 100 kids to learn,” Bandar says.
In addtion to event space, the second floor will house clean studio space for patent attorneys, business developers, web developers and graphic artists.
“If we can do that, especially attract those four professional folks, then we have one-stop shopping for taking your idea from prototyping to commercialization,” Bandar says. “If we can help our ideators with that suite of business services, that’s a real value-add.”
The CIF will start a $1.25 million fundraising campaign in June which will go towards building out the second floor, garage, roof and basement that will provide primarily assembly and storage space. Projects will be completed as the funds are received.
Initial grants totaling $430,000 helped the CIF build out the first floor of the 100-year-old warehouse which was already well-suited for industrial use. In a partnership that helps the CIF achieve their long-term goals while supporting the Franklinton community, Bandar is renting the space from the Franklinton Development Association with eventual plans to purchase. The money from rent will filter back to the community through the FDA.
Community is a large part of what drives the CIF. “People may come for the tools but they stay for the community,” Bandar says. He revels in the innovation that develops from bringing so many creatives together in one space. “Those happy accidents of different people colliding – that’s what leads to real innovation,” he says.
Bandar calls the combination of art, technology and business that the space provides an extremely exciting, creative and sustainable combination – and what’s in store for the future.
“We might not have a dozen 100,000 employee companies…but we might have 100,000 companies with one to ten people sprouting up in the next few years and that I think represents an exciting and disruptive new potential if it really catches on – and I think it’s catching on,” he says.
To view many more photos of the new space, CLICK HERE for a first look on ColumbusUnderground.com.
For more information, visit columbusideafoundry.com.
All photos by Walker Evans.