MAKE-IT aims to study Maker communities across Europe from multiple angles in order to get a clearer understanding how collaborative platforms work. To do so, the MAKE-IT project will adopt an open and participatory approach.


The overall objective of the MAKE-IT project is to understand the role of Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation (CAPS) in how the Maker movement has grown and operates, particularly in relation to using and creating social innovations and achieving sustainability. These findings will be translated into a wider understanding of the uses and impacts both of CAPS in different contexts as well as of the Maker movement itself.

The specific objectives of the MAKE-IT project are:

  1. to undertake multidisciplinary research (behavioural studies, social psychology, sociology, management information systems, economics, plus environmental, technological and governance issues) into the role and impact of CAPS approaches on the Maker movement;
  2. to focus the research specifically on the role of CAPS in:
    1. how Maker communities are organised and governed;
    2. what Maker participants do and how they behave;
    3. the various ways this impacts on and adds value to society.

These three perspectives, termed analytical pillars in MAKE-IT, provides a comprehensive but also simple set of insights which show both the ‘means’ by which CAPS operate in Maker communities and the ‘ends’ these ‘means’ produce:

  1. organisation and governance: the ways that Maker communities using CAPS are organised both internally and externally, the legal and regulatory frameworks that promote or retard them, their IPR implications, security, safety and privacy issues, and the interfaces they have with their institutional and policy environments which include social, economic, environmental and technological systems;
  2. peer and collaborative activities and behaviours: the mechanisms and activities, including generating awareness and leveraging peer pressure, to drive the behaviour to take-up Maker activity and/or establish or join a maker community using CAPS approaches, and to stimulate for better lifestyles through behavioural and system change. These activities and behaviours include learning, sharing, collaborating and realising new forms of production, including social, economic, environmental and technological issues;
  3. value creation and impact: the ways and extent to which Maker communities using CAPS approaches create and capture social, economic and environmental value, including through new forms of local, bottom-up business-, social- and sustainable-models, transversing between non- monetised and monetised accounting frameworks, and impact assessment methods.
Three analytical pillars of MAKE-IT: organisation and governance, peer and collaborative activities and behaviours, value creation and impact.

Work plan

Overall the project will have three partly overlapping phases: conceptual investigation (Phase 1), participatory exploration (Phase 2) and CAPS implications (Phase 3).

  1. In Phase 1 (Conceptual investigation) we will start with close investigation of the underlying conceptual and theoretical models of the maker movement and an expanded mapping of involved stakeholders based on the initial concepts as described in the previous sections.
  2. Phase 2 (Participatory exploration) is dedicated to the participatory exploration of individual cases and experimental action research. While the case study approach focuses on the characteristics of the different types of maker communities, the action related approach brings together the various communities in an experimental setting to test new forms of collaboration on the MAKE-IT platform.
  3. Phase 3 (CAPS implications) deals with the implications of the emerging results, in terms of impact, exploitation, and sustainability of results. Depending on experiences gained in the exploration phase, sustainability models will be explored for emerging structures.

Following a participatory approach throughout the project, all phases will be based on research partnerships involving multiple actors, combining scientific methods with knowledge from practitioners as experts in the field. The focus of this research method is not only based on the explicit, quantifiable and reproductive knowledge of the practitioners but also on the tacit aspects of human activity. In MAKE-IT, the participatory research process is a mutual learning process, which requires the sharing of knowledge between the domains of the participants. Maker practitioners possess the tacit knowledge of their current practices while researchers and technical developers possess the more explicit knowledge of potentially applicable models and technologies to support these practices, and both can contribute to generating social impact.

WP2 has a central role in providing a first conceptual and methodological framework that will be adapted during the course of the project and based on the empirical findings and experiences made in the exploration of the cases. The empirical work is mainly performed in the two exploratory work packages, WP3 and WP4: while WP3 follows a participatory case study approach, WP4 takes the partnership between Maker communities and researchers one step further by performing action research on potential innovative CAPS enhancements across the specific Maker communities. WP5 supports the work in other work packages by monitoring technological developments, as well as its use of that technology, by observing latest trends and providing an exploratory platform for the action research in WP4. WP2 and WP6 are closely connected by providing the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the project and deriving new scientific and socially relevant implications from its work. While WP2 focuses on the conceptual model, WP6 is responsible for the data analysis and impact assessment. It will feed back to WP2 as well into WP7 for dissemination and exploitation. WP7 is dedicated to the dissemination of project results to the scientific community, the makers themselves, other CAPS, policy makers, as well as related stakeholders and the wider public. The sustainability of the project results and exploitation scenarios will also be developed in this work package. Finally, WP1 is responsible for the overall management and coordination of the project.

The structure of the Work Plan of MAKE-IT.
The structure of the Work Plan of MAKE-IT.

Case studies

Case studies are analysed by WP3, which focuses on the following core objectives:

  •  to undertake primary research into the role of CAPS type approaches in ten contrasting Maker communities, as validated in WP2, with a focus on the three analytical pillars of organisational structures and governance, peer and collaborative activities, and value and impact creation;
  •  to understand the ways that the Maker movement views and exploits the opportunities afforded by CAPS approaches, as well as the current barriers and drivers involved;
  •  to understand the societal value created by Maker communities and their relation with other emerging digital and non-digital social innovations;
  •  to generate ideas for how CAPS approaches could be further exploited by Maker communities and emerging related movements to create societal impact.

Read more

Technology scenarios

The technological dimension of CAPS and of the Maker movement is analysed by WP5, which focuses on the following core objectives:

  • to provide the project, and especially the case study WP3 and WP4, with state-of-the-art overviews of both:
    1. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and related applications developed and/or used by CAPS;
    2. Maker technology developed and/or used by Makers. This will include the relationships and mutual complementary of the two;
  • to develop forward scenarios and a watching brief of these two technology areas and how they are used by CAPS and Maker communities both respectively and in combination. These scenarios will by directly deployed in the work of WP3 and WP4, as well as provide inputs into WP2 and WP6.

Action research

The action research experimentation is developed by WP4, which focuses on the following core objectives:

  • to investigate the extent to which improvements to the use of CAPS approaches by Maker communities increase their effectiveness across the three analytical pillars of organisation and governance, peer and collaborative activities and value creation and impact;
  • to analyse how such improvements can strengthen the communities impact on the societal challenges they address.

As opposed to classical analytical research, action research can solve current practical problems whilst at the same time furthering our scientific knowledge through a reflective process of working with practitioners. MAKE-IT adopts two approaches to action research:

  1. knowledge transfer (based on findings from WP3 and WP5) through sharing and discussions in order to help solve problems;
  2. implementing CAPS-technology enhancements (from WP5) as an active and reflective process of working together with Maker communities: we call this innovation action research.


Milestones are significant events in the progress of the project and an important reference to measure the achieved project success. The following milestones have been defined for the work plan of MAKE-IT:

Milestone # Milestone name Related work
Means of verification
MS1 Initial grounding WP1, WP2, WP3, WP7 M3 Successful project kick-off and
handbook available; initial conceptual
framework defined providing input for
empirical work; website ready
MS2 Conceptual Phase WP1, WP2, WP3,
WP4, WP5, WP7
M6 Conceptual framework updated and
case studies started; initial technology
mapping performed, dissemination
material prepared
MS3 Participatory Phase 1 WP1, WP3, WP4,
WP5, WP7
M12 Management report, first case studies
finished; technological infrastructure
prepared; action research started;
Dissemination, Exploitation and
Communication Report
MS4 Participatory Phase 2 WP3, WP4, WP5,
M18 Results from case studies and action
research available; cross-case analysis
performed; first empirical results
MS5 MAKE-IT implications WP1, WP2, WP3,
WP4, WP5, WP6,
M24 All deliverables submitted; impact
assessment completed and
communicated widely; sustainability
plan initiated