Calling young people who love making, have great ideas and are up for the challenge!

The Midlands Maker Challenge is an exciting new programme drawing on the rich manufacturing heritage of the Midlands. It will be a large programme of activities over the coming year to encourage young people to get involved in making, and it is being kicked off with the Midlands Maker Summer Challenge 2020.

If you love making, have great ideas, and are between 11 and 18 years old then we hope you are up for the Summer Challenge! It is open to individuals and teams, which can include family members, friends or school mates, and any collaboration must take into account Government guidelines on social distancing and contact. It is open for entries between 17th July and 24th August for young people across the East and West Midlands.

These have been disruptive times for all of us, but particularly young people, and the idea of the Summer Challenge is to provide a fun, creative and exciting challenge for young people to have a go at. We have all been spending much more time at home, so perhaps taking a fresh look at something in your home, community or school that could work better or is missing, would be a good starting point. But you don’t have to be restricted to that.

The Midlands Maker Summer Challenge 2020 is brought to you by Derby Museums and IMI plc. to celebrate the opening of the inspirational new Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, site of the world’s first factory. When it opens in 2021 it will be celebrating 300 years of making to inspire and support the makers of tomorrow. It will be telling stories in the museum such as when British Rail Research Labs in Derby developed the active tilting train, they invented a world-changing way for trains to be faster and safer.

By using stories like these we want to help find the Midland’s makers and inventors for the future through activities like the Summer Challenge.

To excite and inspire young people to get involved, the Museum of Making will be providing an Ideas Pack for anyone that wants to enter including information sheets, guidance on how to make a prototype and access to Sketchfab – 3D models of some of the amazing collections that will be in the new Museum of Making to help spark some ideas.

Once you have done that and come up with your idea, you can submit either a one-minute video or up to five photos explaining your idea. Winners will be selected by a panel of making experts from the Museum of Making and IMI plc, and will be announced in early September. Winners will receive a ‘Maker Box’ which will contain a set of making tools and materials to support more making, and also up to a £100 voucher that can be used to add to the Box. They will also be invited to a special makers event for young people in summer 2021, when the new Museum of Making will have opened its doors.

Paul Liptrot, who manages the Midlands Maker Challenge at the Museum of Making said:

“Today young people face an increasingly complex future driven by technological, societal and environmental changes. The development of skills, in particular creativity, is important to support young people to be adaptive, resilient and to take ownership of their future.  This is even more important given the difficult times we have all faced over the last few months, which is why we are launching this Summer Challenge as part of the wider programme of work that underpins the Midlands Maker Challenge.”

“The Summer Challenge is all about supporting young people in developing their future, as well as being a fun and exciting way for them to explore their own skills and ideas. We have all been spending more time in our homes recently, so this could perhaps be a good starting point. We don’t want to constrain ideas as the sky is the limit and we have put together an Ideas Pack to inspire people to get their thinking caps on this summer and come up with some creative ideas to issues or problems that would make a real difference to their communities. This will help us develop the makers of tomorrow.”

Daniel Shook, Group Finance Director at IMI Plc. said:

“IMI is delighted to be investing in the Midlands Maker Challenge. As a company with a rich engineering heritage in the region we really believe in the importance of fostering the skills needed to develop the makers of tomorrow. We are excited to see the ideas that come forward and the challenges young people feel need tackling. This is a real opportunity for us to help the makers of tomorrow flourish.”

How the Midlands Maker Summer Challenge will work and timetable:

  • Entries are open from 17th July to 24thAugust 2020.
  • You can enter individually or create a small team of up to three people drawn from family members, school mates and friends. Social distancing and contact rules must be adhered to in any collaborations.
  • Everyone on a team must be between 11-18 years of age and live in the East or West Midlands. This includes Derbyshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire.
  • Once you or your team have got your idea in place you will need to put together a one-minute video or five photographs explaining the concept.
  • Teams will be selected by panel of experts in early September 2020 and winners will be notified by the 4th of September
  • Winners invited to attend a special day for young makers at the Museum of Making in summer 2021.

The Ideas Pack and further details of how to enter can be found at

Ongoing Midlands Maker Challenge events

The Summer Challenge is helping to kickstart the Midlands Maker Challenge which will consist of many other events over the coming year to get more young people involved in making by developing their skills. We will be announcing four other new waves of the Midlands Maker Challenge in September.

The Midlands-based engineering firm IMI plc, have provided a donation to Derby Museums to run this challenge. The Challenge will build on the Midlands outstanding position as a place for innovation and excellence and takes forward the learning of the ArtScience Prize UK delivered by Derby Museums in 2015.