This is an article that I wrote for the South China Morning Post about how Shenzhen has become the global epicenter of grassroots hardware innovation.
Grassroots hardware innovators from around the world have been drawn to Shenzhen for one reason: its capacity to produce. Prototypes and products are easier and cheaper to develop and roll out here than anywhere else on the planet, and a vibrant international community of hardware innovators have formed around the city’s electronics markets, startup incubators, and factories.
“It’s become [the go-to place] for people who make hardware projects that they want to make into products,” says Mitch Altman, the founder of NoiseBridge, one of the first makerspaces, or innovation houses, in the United States.
“In the old days, if you wanted to be innovative [or] have the latest technology, you would go to Silicon Valley for electronics … But today it’s Shenzhen. Because of all of this open innovation, it’s becoming the new place for everybody to gather,” says David Li, the co-founder of China’s first makerspace, XinCheJian.