Tag Archives: Emily Parker

Report: China invests heavily in Makers

China’s Communist Party government has reportedly endorsed the country’s burgeoning DIY Maker Movement.

“Innovation is no longer only promoted by the top-down initiatives of the world’s biggest companies,” reads a recent article in the state-run Liberation Daily newspaper.

“[Rather, it] is being built from the bottom up by countless individuals such as amateurs, entrepreneurs and professionals. As [Chris] Anderson says, we are born Makers… The future of China’s maker industry will be very competitive.”

Another state media article expresses similar sentiments, recommending that authorities “seize the current opportunity to introduce plans as soon as possible to support the development of the maker movement.”

As Emily Parker notes in Slate, both the United States and China are embracing the Maker Movement’s potential for entrepreneurship, viewing this kind of grass-roots innovation as essential for staying competitive in the 21st -century economy.

“The 2012 Shanghai Maker Carnival had the support of the Communist Youth League. Shanghai officials proposed 100 government-supported ‘innovation houses.’ Beijing’s Tsinghua University embraces Maker-inspired education,” she writes.

“Some hackerspaces in China get official support in the form of equipment, or help with paying the rent.”

Eric Pan, the Sichuan-born founder of Seeed Studio, explains why.

“Innovation can lead to start-ups. Start-ups can solve the problems of unemployment, and start-ups also have potential to become technology and design-intensive companies.”

Indeed, as Pan told Bits & Pieces earlier this year, MakerSpaces will likely enable a new wave of tech startups in China as in the US.

“To be sure, Makers working with their peers are now able to more easily realize their goals, while bringing products to market with new platforms such as e-commerce sites and crowd funding… For now, MakerSpaces are gradually helping Chinese tech companies discover additional possibilities, although the Maker role is likely to increase, with participants in the DIY culture setting technology trends in conjunction with major industries,” he adds.

The full text of Emily Parker’s “The Chinese Government Is Investing Heavily in the Maker Movement” is available on Slate here.

China’s Maker Movement is rapidly evolving

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Emily Parker confirms that the wildly popular DIY Maker Movement is gaining serious ground in China. As readers of Bits & Pieces know, Makers often gather at hackerspaces, or makerspaces, real-world locations where they can learn and work together.

Unsurprisingly, there are over a dozen spaces dedicated to Makers in China, a figure that is expected to significantly increase in the near future. One such Maker space is Xinchejian, or “new workshop.”

Founded in 2010, the space is located in a rented Shanghai warehouse, although a DIY Pop Up version of Xinchejian fashioned out of shipping container recently made its first successful appearance at the Creative Faire in Shanghai. According to the Xinchejian team, the space attracted numerous visitors interested in 3D printing, robotics, Atmel-powered Arduino boards and Maker Culture.

Taiwan-born David Li, a 40-year-old programmer and a co-founder of Xinchejian, told the WSJ he wants to lower the barriers for experimentation and play.

“It’s not about getting together a group of geeks doing something. [Rather], it’s a conduit for people to say, ‘This interactive stuff is not that scary, not that difficult,'” he explained. “The policy makers we meet here are genuinely very curious. They have the resources. They are not afraid to try. They could build bridges to nowhere and they will still have a job.”

Indeed, Makers may very well develop the next groundbreaking technology, or at least that is the hope of Chinese policy makers.

“Chinese industry has to change. It has to migrate to the next stage,” Benjamin Koo, an associate professor of industrial engineering at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, told the WSJ. “Right now it’s purely contract-based. We execute what other people design.”

Seeed Studio in Shenzhen is another outpost for China’s Maker Movement, with the company’s posters featuring Che Guevara calling for people to come together and “challenge the hegemony of industrialized mass production in an unprecedented way.”

“China is on the way. The first time you learn to write, you cannot write novels. You have to copy from the textbook to learn to write A, B, C, D,” said Seeed founder Eric Pan. “When designs go big, the traditional manufacturer will have new products to make. We are providing more candidates.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the evolving DIY Maker Movement is a global phenomenon, limited only by the imagination of an individual. Indeed, as The Verge’s Adrianne Jeffries recently noted, it is now all but “impossible” to deny that DIY is in.

“Every part of the ‘Maker movement,’ a big-tent phenomenon that covers everything from homemade jewelry to homemade drones, is booming,” Jeffries wrote. “Outside of the Make Media empire, there’s been an explosion of crowdfunded maker projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. On the other end of the business spectrum, [the Atmel-powered] MakerBot, one of the best-known companies in the Maker Movement, was just bought by a public company for $604 million.”

According to Jeffries, it makes perfect sense that Making is trendy right now, as Maker culture encourages empowerment: skill over money, building over buying, creation over consumption.

“The maker movement covers bicycles that generate electricity, art projects that light up when you press a button and the enormous genre of how-to videos on YouTube. It’s in line with the eco-friendly and buy local movements, the back-to-artisanal aesthetic and the geek worship that are also part of the post-aught zeitgeist,” he added.