Tag Archives: Eric Pan

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.

Atmel looks back at Maker Faire Shenzhen

Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire, notes that Maker Faire Shenzhen, held the first weekend of April 2014, celebrated the emergence of the Maker Movement in China and recognized the significance of Shenzhen as a global capital for DIY culture.

“Maker Faire Shenzhen was the first full-scale Maker Faire in China. An estimated 30,000 people walked the tree-lined streets to interact with makers, participate in workshops and listen to presentations,” Dougherty explained in a recent Makezine article.

“[The event] was a showcase for 300 makers who manned 120 exhibits. Organized by Eric Pan and his team at Seeed Studio, Maker Faire Shenzhen was a public demonstration of the robust productivity of China’s makers. The Maker Movement could play a major role in China in transforming both China’s view of itself and the world’s view of China as a center of innovation.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel attended the Faire from April 6-7. Our booth – #4 – was located right next to Center Stage.

In addition, Sander Arts (@Sander1Arts), VP of Corporate Marketing at Atmel, gave a detailed presentation about Atmel microcontrollers, the IoT and Makers.

Sander’s well-attended presentation garnered a significant amount of attention in the local press from a number of journalists, including those writing for CNET, Ifanr, LeiPhone, PowerSystemsDesign (China) and 01EA.

“Various Maker teams demonstrated their projects, ranging from 3D printers to open-source vehicles, VR and wearable devices at Maker Faire 2014 in Shenzhen, highlighting the extensive possibilities of the Internet of Things,” wrote Cui Qiwen, Ifanr.com.

“As the robust brain behind all these maker projects, Atmel was also present at the convention.”

Xia Hang of LeiPhone, expressed similar sentiments.

“… Atmel accounts [for a] significant role that drives and inspires various projects in different categories such as LED, 3D printing and Arduino. Atmel’s MCU-based Arduino development platform enables more entry-level [projects],” Hang explained.

“Through Maker communities, Atmel has constructed close relationships with Makers in mainland China, not only by providing technology support, but also offering opportunities to present their maker projects through holding AVR Hero Contests. [As Sander says], ‘we are the Makers’ enablers, but the power is with you.'”

Meanwhile, CNET’s Tao Jingjie confirmed that Atmel maintains a close relationship with Makers via its AVR-based 8-bit MCUs and ARM-based 32-bit MCUs/MPUs.

“Atmel powers Makers to convert innovative ideas into actually commercialization-possible products, including LED projects, 3D printing projects, Arduino projects, and so on,” said Jingjie.

“It also held the global AVR Hero design contest, in which the products [that won] the award will achieve funding from Atmel [along with help] to enter the market in the future.”

Interested in learning more about the Maker Movement in China? You can check out our article archive on the subject here.

Makers tap into China’s open hardware scene

Writing for CNBC, Lynn Lee notes that a grassroots innovation movement centered around open hardware and Maker culture is evolving in China.

“Where high-tech research and development was once seen as something only large companies could afford, more and more individuals are going it on their own,” Lee explained.

Image Credit: CNET China

To be sure, hackerspaces, which Lee describes as “key” to a booming DIY or Maker Movement, were non-existent in the China of 2010. However, the global concept has quickly taken off in a number of Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing.

“There are people here who are passionate about the maker culture and innovation. There is an open hardware scene in China tapped into the global maker movement and it is growing,” Dr. Silvia Lindtner of the University of California, Irvine and Fudan University in Shanghai told CNBC.

Image Credit: CNET China

“In recent years, China has become an essential enabler in the global maker movement. That’s because many factories in Shenzhen have long adopted a system of open-source sharing in order to lower production costs.”

Lee also highlighted the Shenzhen-based Seeed Studio founded by Eric Pan, which works to combine the potential of open-source hardware with opportunities offered by Guangdong’s electronics supply chain.

“Makers looking to produce prototypes of their designs and small batches of samples can turn to Seeed for help,” Lee noted. “The company also hosts an active community on its site, where proposals are pitched and projects with the most support are manufactured and made available for sale.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Eric is understandably enthusiastic about the open source movement, as he also organized the Shenzhen Maker Faire and established the hardware incubation project “HAXLR8R” with Cyril Ebersweiler.

“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 crowdfunding,” Pan told Bits & Pieces during a recent interview.

Shenzhen (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

“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.”

Interested in learning more about China and the Maker Movement? You can check out our article archive on the subject here.

Will Makers change Shenzhen?

Writing for the EE Times, Junko Yoshida says local culture in Shenzhen is rapidly changing, with a growing number of hi-tech workers reportedly joining the rapidly growing Maker Movement (chuang ke).

Indeed, RPTechWorks founder Yang Yango told Yoshida that “labor intensive” Shenzhen will eventually become a city known for fast prototyping with “shortened development” cycles. 

Qifeng Yan, ex-director of the Nokia Research Center in Shenzhen and currently director and chief researcher at Media Lab (Shenzhen) of Hunan University, expressed similar sentiments in an interview with Yoshida.

However, Yan noted that many individuals in Shenzhen lack free time and space. As such, the Maker Movement in Shenzhen (and China as a whole) is evolving into something quite distinct. 

More specifically, it is intertwined with the existing electronics ecosystem in Shenzhen, as Makers help local companies open DIY workshops, kick off fresh projects and even open new startups.

“The electronics market on Huanqiang Road has always been a destination for every EE. But its importance is increasing for the rest of us, with the maker movement catching on,” Yoshia concluded.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, hardware development is becoming a more agile process with the aid of prototyping tools like Atmel-powered RepRap and Arduino boards – both of which are helping to facilitate innovation across the world and particularly in China.

“MakerSpaces will likely enable a new wave of tech startups in China as in the U.S,” Seeed Studio founder Eric Pan told Bits & Pieces during a recent interview. “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 crowdfunding.”

Interested in learning more about China and the Maker Movement? Previous Bits & Pieces articles on the subject are available here. Atmel also will be at Maker Faire Shenzhen 2014 in April, so be sure to stop by and see us if you are in the area!

Eric Pan: From Seeed Studio to HAXLR8R

Born in Sichuan, China, Eric Pan (潘昊) graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from Chongqing University. 

He founded the wildly popular Seeed Studio in July 2008 to help Makers transform their ideas into actual products, subsequently establishing the first organized Maker Community in Shenzhen. Known as Chua Huo, the MakerSpace facilitates interaction among DIY Makers, while encouraging dialogue and cooperation with both industry and academia.

Eric is understandably enthusiastic about the open source movement, as he also organized the Shenzhen Maker Faire and established the hardware incubation project “HAXLR8R” with Cyril Ebersweiler. In 2013, Eric was named one of the “Top 30 Entrepreneurs” in China by Forbes, which prominently featured the engineer on the magazine’s front cover.

ericpan

Recently, the staff of Bits & Pieces had the opportunity to sit down with Pan for a wide-ranging interview covering a number of topics including the rapidly evolving open source movement, Atmel-basedArduino boards, Atmel-powered 3D printers such as RepRap, the Maker Movement and Shenzen, a major city in the south of Southern China’s Guangdong Province.


Bits & Pieces: 

How are Atmel-based Arduino boards and 3D printers such as RepRap helping to inspire the design and prototyping of new products in China?

RepRap Version 2 ‘Mendel’ (Image Credit: Wikipedia)


Eric Pan:


Hardware development has traditionally been perceived as a complex process, with a product lineup often taking years to improve and perfect. However, tools such as Atmel-based Arduino boards and 3D printers have significantly lowered the entry barrier for hardware innovation, thus creating a much wider playing field for DIY Makers. 

Indeed, over the past a few years, we’ve seen designers and Makers create prototypes and iron out issues in days and weeks, rather than months or even years.

Clearly, hardware development is becoming a more agile process with the aid of prototyping tools like RepRap and Arduino boards – both of which are helping to facilitate innovation across the world and particularly in China.

Bits & Pieces: What role do MakerSpaces and Universities play in setting technology trends for Chinese tech companies?

The Atmel-powered uARM (UFactory, Shenzhen, China)


Eric Pan: 
Universities have established links and collaborated on a number of projects with various Chinese tech companies, with many engaging in pioneering research. In addition, MakerSpaces have evolved into innovation hubs responsible for encouraging a diversity of ideas and products. 

Essentially, MakerSpaces act as a virtual bridge for cross-boundary conversations between industry and academic research. This enables constructive dialogue about issues which are typically overlooked. Personally, I believe niche market Maker platforms and devices are analogous to indie movies that provide the commercial film industry with a hotbed of new ideas.

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 crowdfunding. 

Nevertheless, major companies in China are somewhat cautious about encouraging grass-root innovations, even though some of them are actively involved in a collaborative dialogue with Makers as part of a strategic open innovation strategy. So 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.

Bits & Pieces: The Maker Movement seems to be particularly active in Shenzen and Shanghai. Why do think this is?

Eric Pan: The most important factor is the intellectually fertile ground of the two locations. Shanghai is particularly active, first and foremost because of its foreigner base and natural Maker culture.

Local tech and art people are also enthusiastic about the trend, which helps bolster the DIY attitude. 

Meanwhile, Shenzhen has an established manufacture and supply based chain which is attractive to Makers from all over the world. If you look at the bigger picture, it is quite clear that these local two MakerSpaces have inspired a larger group of Makers and Makers-to-be across China. 

Unfortunately, the cost of living in both Shanghai and Shenzhen are too high for many Makers to realistically design and develop their products. As such, I hope to see more Makers gathers in smaller cities where the cost of living is somewhat lower and more amenable to a DIY crowd.

Bits & Pieces: What is the future of open source hardware and the Maker Movement in China? Does it face any specific hurdles?

Shenzhen (Image Credit: Wikipedia)


Eric Pan: 
There are currently a number of opinions being heard about the future of the Maker Movement in China. Nevertheless, one thing is for certain. The inherent entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people will help the Maker culture grow – and vice versa. 

The biggest hurdle, from what I can tell, may very well come from established educational facilities, simply because Chinese students expect to be trained in traditional methods when specific professional skills are required. 

However, exposure to multiple academic disciplines will encourage people to people think out of the box and explore different ways of approaching problems and opportunities. In addition, being asked more open-ended practical questions instead of simply memorizing facts would go a long way in encouraging students to try out real-world solutions.

Bits & Pieces: What can companies like Atmel do to help encourage the growth of the Maker Movement in China?

Eric Pan: Atmel has already played a very important role in engineering universities through its programs. The inspiring part is that art and design students are using Atmel chipsets which power Arduino boards – effectively building a bridge for major cooperation between Makers and the corporate world.

Continued support from Atmel for future Maker events will definitely contribute to the evolution and growth of the DIY movement in China. On the business side, hardware generated by Maker projects will also help encourage major industry players to create more varied products using Atmel microcontrollers and microprocessors. Last, but certainly not least, the direct involvement of Atmel engineers in local Maker communities will undoubtedly help nurture and grow the DIY movement across China.