TechShop: a place to learn, network and invent

Last month I visited TechShop in Portland, OR. For those not familiar with TechShop, imagine a machine shop with a start-up incubator culture operating under a fitness club membership structure.

If you’re a recently laid-off engineer with a great idea, a garage inventor who doesn’t own a specific piece of equipment, a woodworking hobbyist who wants to compare notes on patterns with other woodworkers, or even a teenager who wants to tinker; TechShop may just be the perfect fit.

My tour of the TechShop was impressive. In addition to the diversity of tools and equipment available to members, I was shown the future homes of a retail shop where members could purchase materials and sell their creations, classrooms which had already been booked by local schools and other groups, and an event space for product demos to potential investors.

While TechShops aren’t touted as the innovation solution during these tough economic times, they certainly are a point of light – a terrific outlet for creative and entrepreneurial folks to work and network with one another – and something is bound to pop.

With three locations – the original in Menlo Park (CA), Portland (OR), and Durham (NC) – I have only one question: when can we expect them to expand to New England?