Kerala set to get two fab labs

Kochi: Kerala will get two new fab labs this weekend when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates a mini and super version of the technical prototyping platform for design fabrication technology, giving India's hardware industry a huge leap.

The super fab lab, which is to come up in Kochi, will allow researchers, innovators and developers to do things beyond the purview of the state's existing fab labs.

To be inaugurated at the January 25 function being organised in Palakkad by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), the super fab lab completed in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will be the world's first such facility to function outside of the US, a KSUM release said.

During Saturday's ceremony at Government Polytechnic College in Palakkad, the Chief Minister will do a remote switching-on of the machine, marking the inauguration of the super fab lab based at KSUM's Integrated Startup Complex (ISC) in Kalamassery here, it said.

Vijayan will also perform the ribbon-cutting of the Mini Fab lab in Palakkad, adding to a state-wide network of 20 such establishments that allow students to learn digital fabrication and experiment with the technology which combines computer-aided design with additive and subtractive manufacturing.

Water Resources Minister K Krishnankutty will preside over the function.

M Sivasankar, Principal Secretary, Electronics & IT, will present a report on 'Fab Lab & Startup Ecosystem'.

The upcoming super fab lab at ISC here, will have state-of-the-art machines worth more than Rs 7 crore in an area of 10,000 square feet.

Kerala presently has two electronic fab labs, functioning at Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.

The super fab lab at Kochi will make ISC one of the country's most sought-after investment hubs, coming as it is after electronics hardware incubator Maker Village and its biotech counterpart Bio-Nest.

KSUM Chief Executive Officer Saji Gopinath said the Startup Mission's collaboration with MIT will also allow Kerala's hardware startups to use the Super Fab Lab and work with researchers of MITs Centre for Bits and Atoms on an MTM (Machine That Make) project.

The first experiment in this direction has been successfully completed at the Fab Lab in Thiruvananthapuram with the creation of a three-axis CNC machine.

KSUM is positioned to lead the transition of MTM project from research projects in the lab to fully functioning units in the field.

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