Innovation Lab

Inspiring local schools and innovating business

Gloucestershire libraries first Innovation Lab at Coleford Library connects businesses, schools and communities with the digital technology of the future.

Funded by Gfirst LEP as part of their Growth Hub Network expansion, this friendly, creative makerspace is designed to inspire creative minds of all ages, and offer the opportunity to test new products, learn new skills and fire up creative ambitions.

Teaming up with local engineering company SPP Pumps, the Lab offers local schools access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) workshops using coding, robotics, virtual reality, and micro-computers. As well as funding transport for schools to visit the Lab, SPP Pumps is also supporting workshops with their Team of STEM Ambassadors.

Two pilot workshops delivered in July this year, invited two local schools to visit the newly refurbished Innovation Lab, where children were inspired by virtual reality, 360 photography and editing, and 3D clay pot printing.

Both schools rated their experience 10/10 for both educational value and pupil enjoyment – 100% of children wanted to return. Hayley Allison, Head Teacher from English Bicknor Primary School was delighted to be one of the first schools taking part: “Digital technology is such a big part of the world we live in and it is hugely important that our young people are prepared for the future. The children were so inspired, they didn’t realise they were learning at the same time – having this local resource is a great opportunity for our pupils.”

As well as inspiring children, working with a local business has helped to strengthen links between our local business community and primary schools; encouraging young people to understand how the technology of the future could be used in ‘real world applications’ and how this may impact on their future careers.

Laura Hurcombe from SPP Pumps said “It was clear to us from an early stage that the vision, the location and the team here at the Lab made it something we simply had to be involved in – a project that delivers access to digital technology, positive inspirational role models and innovative thinking skills to our community. Who knows, maybe I have already met a future SPP innovative leader in one of the many children who’ve visited the Lab?”

As well as inspiring the entrepreneurs of the future, the Lab is also giving local businesses the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ with digital technology, to participate in workshops and discover practical, creative applications. Case studies with the 360o camera have showcased how small businesses can create immersive marketing content that can be used on their websites and on social media.

For small businesses and entrepreneurs, the Lab provides an opportunity to bring their projects to life by developing designs and prototyping ideas. The introduction of a design suite – Apple Mac, Microsoft Surface Pro, Wacom Graphics Tablet & HP Sprout has been well received by local artists and has allowed us to develop partnerships that bring an exciting and creative element to the use of technology.

By improving links with local businesses, the project has elevated the position of Gloucestershire Libraries both in the community and within Gloucestershire County Council. Our strengthened offer in supporting economic growth has not only helped us to build a strong relationship with our Local Enterprise Partnership, but also given us the opportunity to contribute to the Local Industrial Strategy.

For more information on the Innovation Lab follow us on social media @ilabnetwork or email info@innovationlabnetwork.com.