Open Source Hardware: Project Background

Laboratory equipment is often unavailable in the Global South due to high acquisition costs. This unavailability is perpetuated by divides in knowledge production centered in the North, which denies the South recognition and validity. This divide is manifested in international aid through the idea of technology transfer, which was embraced in neoliberal policy in the “development decades” following World War II (Perez, 1988; Kumar Mehta, 2001).

This has created inequality and dependency on the West for scientific knowledge and research (Posadas, 1999). We want to highlight practices and interactions between research and communities pioneered in the Global south, which paradoxically offer a model for the “west” to adopt, and question the predominant obsession with science effectiveness reduced to patents and publication in closed journals. Attention must be drawn to DIY and maker approaches, which insist on the possibility of building laboratory equipment with open source hardware tools and, in the process, democratize technology infrastructure. Furthermore, we claim that by building laboratory equipment, communities are empowered to define their own scientific and development challenges and goals in their local context outside the technology transfer rhetoric. The specific hardware that these communities have begun to create and iterate include, but are not limited to, microscopes, polymerase chain reaction thermocyclers, laminar flow cabinets, and centrifuges.

Open Source Hardware production has been ongoing in Indonesia since 2005 and aims to address issues of affordability and access to lab equipment faced by many Southern countries. This project seeks to map existing stakeholders and initiatives in Indonesia, while determining to what extent similar projects may be utilized in Nepal and the Philippines. The project’s aims to gather data for network analysis of Open-Source Hardware (OSHW) for science initiatives in Yogyakarta (Indonesia) since 2005 to evaluate them as a catalyst and model for open and community-based science efforts in Nepal and Thailand. The activity also include practices of collaboratively designing, building and repurposing electronic components and tools, address the critical problem of the lack of customizable, repairable and affordable scientific laboratory equipment.

The Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Project is initiated by:

Denisa Kera (
Irene Agrivina Widyaningrum (HONF Foundation)
Hermes Huang

Supported by:
OCSD Network
iHub Limited