Image courtesy of PROTO invention factory
The PROTO invention factory, launched in October 2019, is a large-scale Virtual Reality centre located in a refurbished factory in the Noblesser sea quarter of Tallinn. Its cultural offer is centred at the cross-section of inventions and scientific discoveries, the unique selling point being that all exhibits are prototypes.
Idea of the initiative…
To provide a unique venue that focuses on one of the major inventions of the 18th century- the submarine, but through high-tech virtual reality family entertainment and educational activities. It has been developed by its current owner, the BLRT Grupp company, around the vision of providing local residents and tourists access to the coast-line and to recreational activities.
To bring together industrial heritage and educational programmes for families and tourists that focus on technology, entertainment and gamification.
To promote the local historical links between the submarine and the local area.
Innovation and inspirational know how…
Unlike science museums and technology parks, visitors here can playfully interact with prototypes via VR technology. These activities allow every visitor to take away at least one personal ‘discovery’ related to industries of the past and technologies of the future.
Services include children related events, such as summer camps, popular science theatre shows and educational programmes.
Profits made from the core cultural offer of the centre are only part of the income stream as Proto Invention Factory also manages and rents out event facilities as well as its own catering services and facilities.
Emotionally and financially the pandemic period hit hard. Since June the attendance has been very good with close to 30% of visitors from Finland and 10% from Latvia. Whilst there is renewed interest in cultural events, seminars, conferences, concerts, events booked for the final few months 2020 could be cancelled due to pandemic measures.
Ensuring that interesting materials in the exhibition about the history of the inventions such as the submarine and the hot air balloon don’t go unnoticed as visitors might pay more attention on the VR technology itself.
Getting the right level of communication and marketing support.
Meeting the challenges…
Maximising the advantage of being privately owned so that decisions can be taken quickly with regard to implementing new programmes and services.
In terms of COVID-19 pandemic, the bonds with an equipment rental company and event company were strengthened. This has allowed the centre to move to offering virtual events services, including the hosting of international conferences.
Other challenges can be overcome with cross-sectoral innovation programme support for improving services.
The Motor agency designed the exhibition space and remains vital.
PROTO invention factory provides good examples of how innovation activities can be useful to develop educational programmes, new exhibit items and international co-produced exhibits.
The idea of creating a travelling exhibition as well as technology-related partners/international partnerships are driven from Motor and PROTO in close collaboration.
Provides very interesting ways of how to bring inventions from the past together with inventions of today.
And in the future… the centre would like to focus on expanding activities and building regional partnership with European countries.
Proto Invention Factory