The new Detroit TechShop is being touted as a way to spark innovation in the auto industry. The joint press release describes it as "a collaborative effort to open a communal work center in the Detroit area for individual inventors."
Even more telling is a TechShop quote in a New York Times article on the new effort:
“Locating in Detroit with an automotive-focused innovation center is an obvious and clear opportunity,” said Mark Hatch, the chief executive of TechShop.
When TechShop first opened several years ago, it was positioned as a workshop for hobbyists. The founders were surprised when many of their members used the facility to explore, start and operate businesses.
TechShop still welcomes and caters to hobbyists. But they have learned that inexpensive access to advanced machinery attracts entrepreneurs and inventors, and they have adjusted to better target and serve them.
TechShop's shift is part of a broader set of trends towards lightweight manufacturing and hobbyists turning their passions into businesses. These trends are covered in more detail in the Intuit Future of Small Business research memo Today's Hobbyists are Tomorrow's Hobbypreneurs.
This also illustrates the expansion of coworking beyond offices as new and existing labs, research and manufacturing facilities increasingly offer coworking.