WAVE exhibition explores the different currents of collective ingenuity all over the world. On the occasion of WAVE Nanjing, let’s visit the ingenious and innovative China.
Often seen as « the workshop of the world », China is dribing innovation using both advanced technologies and smart frugal initiatives. Today, the government wants the “made in China” to be synonymous of technological progress. Indeed, president Xi Jinping affirmed that innovation was one of his mandate priorities. Stéphane Grumbach, research director at INRIA, explained that “innovation is a central issue for China as that it can change its economy and no longer be confined to a labor-intensive industry.” Beyond the state’s support and China still being and administred economy, there is an important bottom-up dynamic.
In order to maintain the growth of its economy, China adapts its products and also its processes. Haier is a perfect example of companies that opt for innovative operations. In 2015, the brand launched Zhonghuanghui, a collaborative platform to personalize devices. This platform enables the company to work directly with its consumers in order to respond adequately to their needs. Thus, each consumer can propose the product of his imagination. The one who reach a maximum number of vote will be realized. Haier is a perfect demonstration of an innovative co-creation approach with its consumers.
However, this reconversion raises certain problems. There is a large rural exodus creating an important precariousness in rural zones as well as a housing crisis in urban ones. The Chinese government has seized on these issues and now startups also offer ingenious solutions to respond to these issues
One of the most important issues is access to education in rural areas. Most Chinese families seek work in the city leading to an increase of student number in urban areas. This number drops considerably in the countryside. This phenomen creates an unequal distribution of educational resources. The startup Bigbox Factory offers boxes of educational content to teachers in rural areas. These boxes aims to improves education quality and overcome these inequalities.
This exodus has also given rise to a large number of slums in the heart of Chinese metropolis. In 2015, Chinese central government launched a major project to renovate precarious housing units. It fixes a target of 18 million dwellings in 2020. The company Winsun proposes a solution that could achieve this objective: Winsun is a 3D printing solution provider that cans 3D print homes and buildings from construction waste such as cement or glass. This type of construction drastically reduces the time and construction costs while reducing its environmental impact.
One of the main trends also observed in China is the maker movement. Between innovation and experimentation, makerspaces appear as an opportunity for China to complete its transition and become the “laboratory of the world”
FOCUS ON THE MAKER MOVEMENT:
In China, creating things is a national specificity. In order to change the vision of “made in China”, the country must turn to innovative projects and operations. For many people, makerspaces represent this new era of innovation, more popular and ingenious.
Founded in 2012, Nanjing Makerspace is one of the largest sites in China. It offers work and research places equipped in ultra-modern hardware and software.In these spaces, members exchange their knowledge and resources. It includes the following process “idea-prototype-production-marketing”. Nanjing’s makerspace remains very close to the Chinese industries: In 2016, Haier organized a hackaton, encouraging the makers to find the faults of its products in order to improve them.
For 5 years, the number of makerspace has increased, attracting the government’s interest. Wishing to sensitize young people to these new technologies and make the tomorrow’s makers, government has set up programming classes and technological laboratories in primary and secondary schools.
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