There was no grand opening ceremony when Urban Hax opened their new premises in the Black Country. And why should there be – chances are this the first you’ve heard of the not-for-profit tech company.
Perhaps fittingly, the digital lab has taken over a former stables in Walsall – a location synonymous with the Black Country and this new company just might be setting a future trend for the area.
Geoff Henderson is the director of Urban Hax, setting the company up in 2013. He said: “I’m a firm believer that this will make a difference – it’s a new company model but it has the potential to shape the future. We aim to create a permanent creative community here in the Black Country.”
Originally from Durham, Geoff has been based in the West Midlands for more than 20 years, managing a digital media and innovation practice based called Digital Native Economy. He is of the belief investing in the potential local talent pool will yield success for his new venture.
He said: “It’s a digital maker-space for everyone. We want people who come from all different backgrounds in technology to collaborate and see what we can create. We’re happy to train people and get them to reach their potential. We have a 3D printer which has been used for so many projects so far – 3D models of people in particular have proved popular.
We work with entrepreneurs, product designers, fashion designers, engineers, coders and we’re looking at putting the products of these collaboration’s onto an online shop.”
So far the majority of Urban Hax’s output has revolved around 3D printing. It has been used for people having their very own 3D model of themselves, a process where people get scanned in a matter of seconds and the model then gets printed.
Even BBC Newsnight presenter Evan Davis has been scanned for such a model made by Urban Hax. They have also teamed up with museums and stage shows, creating props for the likes of Birmingham’s International Dance Festival and computer games for children at museums including London’s Science Museum.
Funds from Creative Black Country and the National Lottery have helped set up the organisation which plan to have a physical store and online store in the not too distant future.
Parminder Dosanjh, Artistic Director at Creative Black Country, is excited by the potential of Urban Hax. She said: “We’re happy to support an organisation which is so pioneering. The Black Country was at the heart of the industrial revolution and is known for being an area of makers – Urban Hax is carrying that tradition on.”
Keep posted with the latest happenings with Urban Hax on urbanhax.com.
Words: Doug Wootton
Images: Tim Thursfield