Refugee Open Ware

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= " a series of fabrication labs, or "fab labs," located in crisis areas. The company was founded by Dave Levin and Loay Malahmeh". [1]



"Our mission is to employ disruptive technology to improve human rights fulfillment for both refugees and host communities in conflict zones. We seek to attenuate the immediate effects of conflict while driving long-term economic development, productivity growth, venture creation and employment generation.

ROW is a humanitarian innovation consortium comprised of academic institutions, NGOs, companies and public sector agencies. We develop open hardware innovation ecosystems, fueled by co-creation between refugees, host communities, and the best global resources in the world. We establish digital fabrication laboratories and innovation centers that provide the tools and training of the Third Industrial Revolution – characterized by the merging of the physical and the digital worlds."


Global Context

More than 1.5 billion people live in conflict-affected areas. Conflict accounts for half of all child deaths in poor countries, 1/3 of children failing to complete primary school and 1/3 of people lacking access to clean water. More than 51 million people are forcibly displaced by war, 40% of whom live in camps. The average lifespan of a refugee camp is 20 years, and the average stay is 12 years. Containing violence costs the world economy $9.5 trillion annually, and “the humanitarian financing system is nearly bankrupt,” according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres.

Syrian conflict

Guterres calls the Syrian conflict “the worst humanitarian crisis of our times, combined with the worst regional destabilization in any part of the world, and the worst threat to global peace and security.” One million people have been injured as a direct result of the war — amputations being the biggest problem, according to the WHO. More than 7.5 million Syrians are internally displaced and 3 million are refugees. Syria’s neighbors feel acute pressure as a result. In Jordan, for instance, the Council on Foreign Relations warns that the influx of refugees is “severely draining Jordan’s economy and limited natural resources,” threatening political stability.

The three components of the Open Innovation Ecosystem in Jordan

Low-cost, Digitally Fabricated Prosthetics

Estimates of the number of amputations caused by the Syrian conflict range up to 200,000. In Jordan, there is a dire need for functional, low-cost and rapidly produced prosthetics, particularly to address the need for frequent prosthetic replacements for the many child amputees as they grow. We are currently fitting 3-D printed prosthetics onto patients injured in this conflict. Our aim is to scale this project to be the core of a disruptive healthcare innovation lab within the Royal Rehabilitation Center in Amman.

The World's First Fab Lab in a Refugee Camp

We aim to build a digital fabrication lab (fab lab) in Za’atari Camp, on the Jordanian border with Syria. Za’atari hosts 85,000 Syrian refugees who have built a DIY informal settlement with little more than basic tools. The lab will provide informal training on digital fabrication tools and open-source hardware, empowering refugees to create solutions to the problems they identify as most important. We expect the lab to grow organically into an Open Innovation Center: a place to crowd-source, co-create and test solutions to moonshot humanitarian innovation challenges.

A Fab Lab in the King Hussein Business Park in Amman

Our vision is to establish a National Innovation Center by building NextFab Amman in the King Hussein Business Park. The center will be outfitted with a full-range of digital fabrication equipment and will foster innovation at the intersection of disruptive technologies. New ventures will be supported by the Business Park’s start-up incubation facilities. By early 2016, we aim for the center to host Fab Academy training for Jordan and the entire region.

The two primary activities of the 3-D Printed Prosthetics Pilot Project

Research & Development

We exclusively use free, open-source designs for the prosthetics published by open prosthetics initiatives such as e-NABLE, a 3,000-member community for R&D on 3D-printed prosthetics. We then customize the prosthetics to suit our local cultural context, through a co-creation process involving our patients, Jordanian prosthetists, and designers from Jordan and around the world. Furthermore, we are developing our own open-source design tailored to the conditions in the Middle East, through experimentation with new materials, 3D scanning technology, myoelectric sensors, filament colors, artistic embellishments, etc.

Capacity Building

Our capacity building efforts entail training individual Syrian refugees as well as Jordanian prosthetists of the Royal Medical Service (RMS), which operates the largest prosthetics clinic in the country. In a very short time, they have acquired basic CAD modeling skills and have begun printing their own functional prototypes. The culmination of this training will be the development of a medical innovation fab lab and advanced bionics research facility within the RMS. We are also designing and building an online co-creation platform, on which amputees, designers and prosthetists will have access to open-source documentation and knowledge sharing in both Arabic and English.

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