Shenzhen maker spaces offer tools, technology and training to entrepreneurs
The competition between so-called “maker spaces” and incubators is becoming fiercer as their numbers have surged remarkably in recent years, industry players said. Innovation centers in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, are exploring new models to service startups and makers.
In the tech world, incubators, which fundamentally provide physical office spaces, mainly serve as “middlemen landlords” for software startups. They provide networking opportunities and basic business services.
But maker spaces — which provide a collaborative co-working space for startups and offer usually for a monthly membership fee, access to tools, technology and classes — have emerged as a business model for the office leasing sector and are expected to become a significant part of it.
Chaihuo Maker Space, the first maker space in Shenzhen, on Wednesday launched X.factory at the 2016 National Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week in the southern Chinese manufacturing hub and innovation city.
Chaihuo has become one of the most well-known maker spaces in China after Premier Li Keqiang visited and became one of its members in January, 2015.
Since then, the maker space has attracted 90,000 visitors from all over the world and more than 4,500 registered members.
The overall size of the city’s innovation centers has also grown to more than 1,400 at municipal level or above by August, including 180 maker spaces, and attracted about 6,000 startups.
Pan Hao, founder of Chaihuo, introduced the first X.factory to open in Shenzhen’s Nanshan district, where most of the city’s hightech companies and startups are located and said more will follow in other cities later.
The 1,500-square-meter X.factory will bring in professional manufacture equipment in a bid to conveniently realize global makers’ ideas.
Focusing on smart home electronics and architecture design, X.factory could also help traditional furniture, clothes and other manufacturers to upgrade, Pan added.
Monica Shen, the X.factory project director, said the Chaihuo maker space focuses more on organizing education training and sharing meetings for amateur makers, but X.factory could help professional makers to produce prototypes for bulk production.