Shen­zhen maker spaces of­fer tools, tech­nol­ogy and train­ing to en­trepreneurs

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By CHAIHUA and ZHOUMOin Shen­zhen Con­tact the writ­ers through grace@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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.

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