From “Made in China” Toward “Innovated in China”: Research on the Maker Movement in China

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Salon 1 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Junfeng Jeff Ding, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
When “Up-Down” meets “Bottom-Up”     -    China Takes “Maker Movement” As a Breakthrough of Existing System towards New Path of Social and Economic Innovation.


-          Junfeng Jeff Ding,

Director, Fablab O Shanghai, College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University

Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese former paramount leader, favored opening china to what used to be called the global economy in the early eighties.

Shenzhen, a former fishing village which is far from central government and adjacent to Hong Kong, historically carries the “bottom-up” and “grass-root” culture. It is the very first city where China pioneered Deng’s “Reform and opening up” policy (改革开放) and become the starting point of the economic boom in China in the last few decades.

However, The rapid urbanization process consumes significant amount of natural resources and creates serious environmental consequences such as severe air pollution and traffic jams etc.. 

Developing manufacturing industry by meeting global needs makes China as the biggest world factory. Copycats rarely took creative risks and most just mimic the western society, , which determines the characteristics of manufacturing system such as over-capacities, less technology-originated, and lack of design intelligent and creations.

The recent economic slow-down in China puts urgent need to accelerate the reform from version 1.0 , where to repeat the existing pattern from 1 to N to version 2.0, where to create pattern from 0 to 1, developing new sustainable plans based on inventions of new technology.

China is broadening investments in Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe are responding to the regions’ need for investment and development, known as “The Belt and Road Initiative”. The new external global strategy pushes existing internal structure to be dramatically changed and broke through.

The emergence of Internet and related inventions is not only because it is more convenience but also it is more opaque and less corrupt then brick-and-motor business. Democratic manufacturing with open sources community drive “bottom-up”make-movement as a new way for social innovation.

In January 20015, again in Shenzhen, Prime Minister Li keqiang visited local maker space – Chaihuo, and short after, he announced a new national initiative called “Mass Makerspace|众创空间” and followed by series of polices named“Mass entrepreneurship|大众创新and Mass Innovation|万众创新”. It breaks the traditional political dominating “up-down”inertial. Government start to provide opportunities for the majority, rather than just privilege of the few.

As the first-ever-built Fablab in China, we have witnessed enormous paradigm shifts after President Xi’s on board. My speech will illustrate several examples that happened during our developing process, to demonstrate the new breakthrough in existing education system as an eye on the social changes for the entire country.