Once known as a just a manufacturing hub, and before that, muddy swampland, Shenzhen has now become a hub for startup companies, as roughly 16 percent of its population was engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity in the year 2016, according to China Daily.
One of the reasons that the city has become a hotbed of startup activity is its “maker spaces,” better known as business incubators or startup accelerators. Specifically, Shenzhen has more than 80 maker spaces, and its very first maker space, Chaihuo, has attracted more than 5,540 members since 2010, including people from all over the world.
Such maker spaces are considered community centers, and provide facilities and training for members to design prototypes and ultimately bring new products to market. And this maker space culture is now being inculcated in elementary schools as well as through events such as Maker Faire, which advocate startup culture.
In fact, it appears there are even plans to open pilot maker spaces in villages across China, focusing on agricultural projects and giving budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to share resources.
Throughout the years, I have been to Shenzhen more than a few times and have always been struck by the energy, optimism, and frenetic activity there. Once looked down upon by some as a poor man’s Hong Kong, Shenzhen has really come into its own as a global city, and its huge population of young people, combined with its manufacturing prowess, startup culture, and massive container port, have contributed to supercharging the city’s economy.
Thus, I would have no hesitation in declaring Shenzhen as one of the great cities of the future, and look forward to covering more developments in the startup space.