Pedal power help­ing to drive In­ter­net in­no­va­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By QI­UQUAN­LIN in Shen­zhen qi­uquan­lin@chi­

Wang Weizhi started re­search­ing smart tech­nol­ogy for ex­er­cise bikes two years ago af­ter quit­ting his job as an en­gi­neer for ZTE Corp, a lead­ing in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy com­pany in Shen­zhen.

He signed up for a one-year “maker” course at the Shen­zhen In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy, which is af­fil­i­ated to the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences.

Work­ing with a 15-strong team, Wang de­vel­oped a high­tech pack­age which could be in­cor­po­rated into ex­er­cise bikes. The Run­run­fast brand was born and it rolled off the pro­duc­tion line last year af­ter be­ing built by a com­pany in Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

“We thought it would be a good idea to pro­duce a bike al­low­ing peo­ple to surf the Web or chat to friends while ex­er­cis­ing,” Wang, 30, said.

“We made it so they can play on­line games or even check their fit­ness lev­els while work­ing out.”

The Run­run­fast ex­er­cise bike costs be­tween 2,000 yuan ($322) and 3,000 yuan.

Be­fore a sin­gle ma­chine was sold, Wang pro­moted his in­ven­tion on e-com­merce plat­forms and the or­ders started to trickle in. So far, he has sold 800 Run­run­fast ex­er­cise bikes.

“My team­mates and I are plan­ning to start our own busi­ness, pro­duc­ing smart ex­er­cise bikes and de­vel­op­ing other re­lated sports de­vices,” Wang said. “Some tra­di­tional bike man­u­fac­tur­ers are keen to pro­duce large or­ders of our prod­ucts. They see a po­ten­tial mar­ket out there.”

Yet un­likeWang, most of his col­leagues at the in­sti­tute are stu­dents with no work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­cord­ing to Bi Yalei, direc­tor as­sis­tance of the Shen­zhen In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy.

“They have the time to come up with in­no­va­tive ideas as they are wait­ing to find jobs,” Bi said.

“Mak­ers” re­ceive free tu­ition for a year at CAS if they can come up with in­no­va­tive projects or out­stand­ing ideas.

“We are not teach­ing them about science and tech­nol­ogy, but help­ing them with the process of pro­duc­ing in­no­va­tive prod­ucts,” Bi said.

Yet com­ing up with a great idea is just part of the chal­lenge fac­ing “mak­ers”. The next step is to start their own busi­nesses and get their prod­ucts man­u­fac­tured.

“Mak­ers com­ing to the in­sti­tute have in­no­va­tive ideas. But it is not easy for them to turn their ideas into real prod­ucts,” Bi said

Even so, the rise of the “maker” cul­ture will help trans­form tra­di­tional in­dus­tries, ac­cord­ing to Hao Jing­ping, direc­tor of the Maker In­sti­tute un­der the CAS. “In­te­grat­ing th­ese in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies into tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing will help up­grade in­dus­tries,” Hao said.

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