Israeli "Make-A-Thon" Generates Products For People With Disabilities
06/24/2014 - 18:47
Rebecca Modell
Working on a new product. Courtesy of Shusterman Connection Points
Working on a new product. Courtesy of Shusterman Connection Points

Some 70 talented innovators in their 20s and 30s from around the world ran a very different kind of marathon in Israel, as they competed to invent prototypes of tools for people with disabilities using cutting-edge digital and 3D-printing technology.

The “Tikkun Olam Make-a-thon (TOM),” featuring the slogan “72 hours to make a better world,” took place June 29 - July 1, in Nazareth, with participants hailing from seven countries including Israel, the U.S., Argentina, Chile, India and Singapore. Participants were selected from more than 200 applicants from around the world.

TOM is an international gathering of artists, engineers, designers and occupational therapists. They produced working prototypes of products to help people with a range of disabilities, using digital fabrication tools including 3-D printers, laser cutters and other rapid manufacturing equipment.

Working in a specially constructed laboratory called a “makerspace” in the recently-opened Nazareth Industrial Park founded by Israel's leading industrialist Stef Wertheimer, these young inventors created open source tools that allow innovators worldwide to build on and enhance the models.

This event is part of a growing global movement that democratizes the manufacturing process by sharing access to and knowledge of new technology. TOM organizers also expect the event will inspire follow-up gatherings and meet-ups throughout Israel and around the world.

“A TOM-produced design to help a quadriplegic more easily sip from a straw could then be improved upon by innovators in San Francisco, New Delhi or Lima,” said Arnon Zamir, TOM Co-Founder. “Disabilities transcend borders, and so do solutions.”

“Tikkun Olam” is a Hebrew phrase meaning “repair the world.” In its modern context, tikkun olam has come to be associated with social justice work that seeks to bring together a fractured humanity, out of touch with each other and the world itself. 

TOM was created as part of Schusterman Connection Points, an initiative launched by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, a global organization that tries to help young people create positive change in Jewish communities and beyond.

It was organized in partnership with the Reut Institute’s Cross Lab Network (XLN), which aims to place Israel at the frontier of the 3D printing and manufacturing revolution.

"We are excited to support young entrepreneurs in exploring creative ways to leverage cutting-edge technology for humanitarian impact,” said Lynn Schusterman, Founder and Co-Chair of the Schusterman Family Foundation. “I believe young people hold the key to building a vibrant global Jewish future, and we must invest in their passion and potential to do so.”

 

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