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Design Global, Manufacture Local: Assessing the Practices, Innovation, and Sustainability Potential of an Emerging Mode of Production

Project description

Creating sustainable economies through the digital commons

In the midst of a systemic crisis, it is imperative to raise evidence-informed awareness of new capitalist and post-capitalist futures. The EU-funded COSMOLOCALISM project will advance our understanding of how to create a sustainable economy through the digital commons. For example, a community of small-scale farmers in France collectively designs and manufactures their own agricultural machines and shares these designs with the world, as a global commons. Another community in the United States does the same, and these two communities have connected and created synergies by improving the same commons. COSMOLOCALISM will explore this emerging model of production known as 'design global, manufacture local' (DGML), which builds on the convergence of the commons with local manufacturing technologies.


COSMOLOCALISM will document, analyse, test, evaluate, and create awareness about an emerging mode of production, based on the confluence of the digital commons (e.g. open knowledge and design) with local manufacturing and automation technologies (from 3D printing and CNC machines to low-tech tools and crafts). This convergence could catalyse the transition to new inclusive and circular productive models, such as the “design global, manufacture local” (DGML) model.

DGML describes the processes through which design is developed as a global digital commons, whereas the manufacturing takes place locally, through shared infrastructures and with local biophysical conditions in mind. DGML seems to form economies of scope that promote sustainability and open innovation while celebrating new ways of cooperation. However, such claims rest on thin conceptual and empirical foundations.

COSMOLOCALISM is a multiphase, pilot-driven investigation of the DGML phenomenon that seeks to understand relevant organisational models, their evolution, and their broader political economy/ecology and policy implications. Through the lens of diverse case studies and participatory action research, the conditions under which the DGML model thrives will be explored.

COSMOLOCALISM has three concurrent streams: practices; innovation; and sustainability. First, DGML practices will be studied, patterns will be recognised and their form, function, cultural values, and governance structure will be determined. Second, the relevant open innovation ecosystems and their potential to reorient design and manufacturing practices will be examined. Third, selected DGML products will be evaluated from an environmental sustainability perspective, involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. The interdisciplinary nature of COSMOLOCALISM will explore new horizons to substantively improve our understanding of how we could do “more” and “better” with less.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 017 275,00
Ehitajate tee 5
12616 Tallinn

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Eesti Eesti Põhja-Eesti
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)