Super Fab Lab – a technological milestone for Bhutan, says Director, DHI InnoTech

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On June 4, 2022, His Royal Highness (HRH), Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck inaugurated the Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck Super Fab Lab (JNWSFL) within the premises of the Thimphu Tech Park. According to Ujjwal Deep Dahal, Director, DHI InnoTech, the Super Fab Lab (SFL),   inaugurated and named after HRH, The Gyalsey is a milestone in Bhutan’s history as it symbolizes the start of an agile nation, and a chance to evolve existing processes and importantly design and build systems for the next generation. Additionally, he says that the Super Lab space would create a platform for innovation to flourish, by bringing the physical and the digital worlds together, including individuals with curious and creative mindsets to brainstorm, find and create solutions and that it opens gates for people to come out with solutions that matter to billions of people. The director further said “we could be creating the next generation of industries and our economy.” 
Director Ujjwal said the idea of Super FabLab (SFL) was in keeping with His Majesty’s vision and command to strategize and create impactful socio-economic pathways through innovation and technology. “Druk Holding and Investments Limited, in collaboration with the Bhutan Foundation, USA and the Center of Bits and Atoms from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA worked together to establish the first-ever SFL in Bhutan,” he said.  
Apart from providing the “chance to evolve existing processes and importantly design and build systems for the next generation,” he said that with “JNWSFL’s vision to ‘Inspire the Future of Learning and Creating’, those at InnoTech aspire to Learn, Collaborate and Create- a vibrant national innovation eco-system and technology in Bhutan.”
He added that the introduction of the SFL in Bhutan presents an opportunity, and with it, the potential to lay the groundwork for an innovation culture and to develop technology and build solutions that matter for societies around the world. 
Ujjwal also explained that the idea of FabLabs was born in MIT in around 2001 and that today there are more than 1,500 plus Fablabs around the world. “With Fablab we could create almost anything, the idea of SFL is also to create and build machines for the Fablabs with the machines of the SFL,” he said. 
The Fab Network connects to a global community of learners, educators, innovators, researchers, technologists and makers: a knowledge-sharing network that spans multiple countries. “With a Fab Lab near you, you can design globally and produce locally,” he said, adding that basically FabLabs/SuperFabLabs brings the physical and the digital worlds together. “It brings individuals with a curious and creative mindset together to brainstorm problems and create solutions,” he noted. 
Ujjwal underlined that the SFL is one of the foundation platforms for development of technology and an innovation ecosystem in Bhutan. “We look for passionate researchers, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, both nationally and internationally in building solutions to solve problems of societies,” he said.
Further, the SFL would be collaborating nationally and internationally with individuals, and FabLabs and Super Fablabs around the world in defining the problems and building solutions that matter.
“If we find the right answers to solve and create the solutions that matter to billions of  people , we could be creating the next generation of industries and our economy. Super Fab Labs provides that opportunity to every Bhutanese and beyond and such is the gift that is bestowed on us. We need to be creative to utilize the advanced machineries and fundamental electronics to advance design tools and machines,” he said.   
On how different the SFL here is compared to the only other two in the world; MIT and Kerela in India, Ujjwal said “it is not too different in terms of capabilities of the machines.” “But how we utilize the same to build a vibrant innovation ecosystem would depend entirely upon us. “We hope to build an operation system of our Super Lab where every individual could collaborate to imagine, conceptualize, brainstorm, simulate and build prototypes of products and services that solve local and global problems,” he underlined. 
Equipped with high-end, state-of-the-art digital fabrication equipment, the JNWSFL will provide access to advanced computer numerical control (CNC) machines, robotics, 3D printing, 3D scanning, imaging, logic analyzer, electronics production, and a vast array of other digital fabrication equipment to turn their ideas into prototypes. 
Ujjwal reiterated that the Super Lab space would be operated in a way to create a platform for innovation to flourish. “In that process, we aspire to build ‘proof of concept’ solutions to the problems that may spin a whole new vertical in an industry or a new industry vertical altogether,” he said, adding the Super Lab would be operated in such a way leading to the creation of a national space for all to create solutions and also build specific solutions in areas ranging from transportation, agriculture, energy, water and various other fields, building capacities in the latest disruptive technologies and platforms of the Industry 4.0.
On ways the Lab would help upcoming and interested entrepreneurs, he said DHI InnoTech would be very interested to nurture, provide network connections, advise where possible and importantly provide the platform to not only simulate the ideas but potentially build 3D and working models of the entrepreneur’s ideas. “This would provide the entrepreneurs to be agile, conceptualize and operationalize a lean start up method to test the solutions and iterate for efficient produce/service design and raise funds nationally and internationally,” he said.
Currently, the Lab is working in design and prototyping as Research and Development in electronic control systems, small electrical vehicle and drone components apart from data analytics, design, integration and management of strategic resources understanding the future technologies and its potential applications.
Director Ujjwal said the lab will be easily accessible to researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, students, and many more individuals to use their imaginations and creativity to manufacture and prototype products, foster innovative problem solving, and provide an impetus to invigorate the local hardware industry through digital fabrication and computation. “Given this unique position, the lab will also aspire to exist in the global space, by encouraging local citizens to engage with the international community to create impactful products and projects to help address overarching global challenges through innovation, technology and the spirit of collaboration,” he said.