A team of specialist technicians has been appointed to help South Yorkshire businesses develop innovative products and tools at a newly-opened digital innovation makerspace.

Hands-on tech experts from Brightbox have been tasked with providing one-to-one support plus regular workshops and short programmes at the MakerLab on Barnsley’s Digital Campus, The Seam.

Their role will include helping businesses, startups and individuals explore how digital opportunities such as 3D printing, laser cutting and augmented reality can be used to design, make and test news products, operating systems and assets for their businesses.

The MakerLab, which opened at DMC 02 three months ago, has been financed as part of the region’s ERDF-funded Digital Innovation for Growth (DIfG) programme delivered in partnership with Barnsley Council and Sheffield Hallam University.

Kisha Bradley, founder and CEO of Brightbox, said: “We are very excited to be involved in the Digital Innovation for Growth service and look forward to working with innovative businesses in the MakerLab.

“This is such an inclusive place and access to its amazing equipment is for everyone, not just techy businesses and techy people. We all use tech in our businesses now, and our role is to help people with all levels of technical knowledge to explore how digital innovation could help them create new products, solve problems and make their working lives easier.”

Backed by the DIfG funding, BrightBox technicians will provide up to 12 hours of free one-to-one support for entrepreneurs and business owners in the MakerLab, and also deliver a programme of free workshops and short programmes over the next 12 months.

Monthly ‘Getting Started with..’ workshops will cover everything from laser cutting to CRM software and CNC machining to creating tools for creative practice. The next one is ‘Getting Started With CAD’ on Tuesday July 12th.

Sign-ups are also invited for an intensive product development programme over two half-day sessions which will guide participants through the process of design through to prototype. Innovators need only bring a concept, or even just an issue they want to solve, to the sessions, which run from next week June 28th and July 5th 10am – 1pm.

Brightbox brings years of experience to the MakerLab as they have worked with partners to set up more than 70 community makerspaces across the UK, helping more than 10,000 people of all ages and abilities use technology and tools to create, make and learn.

DMC Manager Tracy Johnson said: “We are delighted to have the team from Brightbox on board in the MakerLab and I’m sure their expert support and encouragement will enable many businesses to really make the most of the high-tech digital facilities we have here.

“Digital Innovation for Growth is focused on helping students, startups and established businesses embrace digital technology and seize the opportunities the MakerLab offers to innovate and develop new products to sell and new digital tools to enhance their business.”

Businesses using the MakerLab may also be signposted to academics at Sheffield Hallam University for more in-depth research and development support; or to IoT Engine, another partner organisation, for specialist support in Internet of Things developments.

The Digital Innovation for Growth programme is open to eligible SMEs across the Sheffield City Region, as well as Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, Derbyshire Dales, Bolsover and Bassetlaw. Through the MakerLab, it aims to support businesses who are looking to make the most of digital technology to grow, improve products, maximise efficiency and adopt new ways of working.