Western science, particularly academia, is culturally focused on the breaking of records: the most accurate measure of time, the most detailed analysis of a genome, the observation of the farthest star, the generation of the most energetic particle. Such technological breakthroughs are fundamental in those scientific areas in which precise instrumentation is the key variable linked to outcome. Of course such instrumentation will tend to be extremely expensive.

Should cost be a limiting factor when talking about science? If knowledge is priceless should its spreading be linked to economic variables? From this assumption in 2012 a new variant of traditional science, called “frugal science“, was born. The idea behind frugal science is that of reinventing already existing technologies by lowering production cost thousands of folds while maintaining the technology’s core specs.

Within the European Edition of the Maker Faire, the Global Shapers of the Rome Hub are organizing an event focused on frugal science and in particular on the “Foldscope“, the paper microscope that folds through origami and costs just 0.5$, an invention of Prof. Manu Prakash of Stanford University.

TEDGlobal Prof. Manu Prakash


This revolutionary tool will see its European debut in Rome at the Maker Faire and the Foldscope team members will present it as a low-cost diagnostic tool for developing countries as well as an educational tool to get the new generations excited about science as early as possible.

The event will consist of a TED-style conference on Saturday 4th of October from 14:30 to 17:00, and laboratory sessions and workshops with school children throughout the Maker Faire.

Speakers at the conference will be Laurel Kroo, Rachel Lim and Mark Kirollos from Prof. Prakash‘s Foldscope team, Prof. Jaideep Prabhu, coauthor of the book Jugaad Innovation, Stefano Firpo, Head of the technical department for the Minister of Economic Development, Caterina Falleni, Experience and Strategy Designer at “Design Group Italia” and alumnus of Singularity University, Thomas Sutton, Creative Executive Director of “Frog Design”, Riccardo Luna, Editor for Innovation of La Repubblica newspaper and Bruce Sterling, american science fiction author who helped define the cyberpunk movement in science fiction and writes for Wired Italia.


The Global Shapers Community is an independent apolitical association of volunteers that was born in 2012 under the initiative of the international organization of the World Economic Forum with the aim of bringing together, under the same global network, young exceptional leaders to make them part of the ongoing processes of change affecting their societies.
To this end, the WEF has been selecting from all the major cities in the world young people between 20 and 30 years of age who have achieved exceptional milestones in their fields of interest, have demonstrated strong leadership, and are driven by the desire to better the societies in which they live in.
As of today the Global Shapers Community encompasses 356 cities and includes more than 4200 members spread throughout the five continents. The Rome Hub, born in 2012, today counts more than 25 Shapers and is always on the look out for amazing new talents to join the team (contact@globalshapersrome.org).