• Reports
Zhongguancun's dream lab: Cradle of dreams
( chinadaily.com.cn )
Updated: 2014-12-09

There is a dream lab in Zhongguancun. Even "impossible and unreliable" dreams can have the chance of being achieved here. The lab offers resources for young people with innovative ideas. It helps turn flashy ideas into popular products and makes it possible for youngsters with computer skills to set up science and technology companies and recruit personnel.

15-year-old CEO

"We want to form a global leading code transaction and technology sharing platform, making it the Taobao for coding peasants," said Wang Yixiao, a senior high student born in 1999. He was explaining his goal at the maker space on the fourth floor of the lab.

Don't underestimate his dream speech. His company has been in the process of registration. The platform Wang mentioned is about to have its initial product research finished. The 15-year-old is the actual manager of the company and its products. More surprisingly, cofounders of the company are two college students who are six years older than Wang.

The realization of seemingly impossible dreams is closely connected with the dream lab.

"The maker space incubated not only my project, but also myself," said Wang, who showed much more maturity and logical thinking than his peers.

Wang has been fascinated with electronic circuits since childhood. He saw information about the maker space on Weibo and stepped into the space for the first time in July 2013. He made friends with many entrepreneurs at the space every day, and the entrepreneurial environment helped Wang gradually develop mature and comprehensive thinking. Everyone here is his consultant or mentor, and he made friends with two of them, who later became cofounders of his company.

Low input helps realize a dream

Seven air monitors were placed around the Yanqi Lake, offering real-time monitoring of ambient air, during the APEC meeting.

The monitors, each worth less than 1,000 yuan ($163), came from a small entrepreneurial team of dozens of members. They can monitor PM2.5 concentration and pollution flow direction through background precision correction techniques.

"For the same product model, few manufacturers are willing to take orders because of the small order from the entrepreneurial team. Even if they do, the price is out of the market," said Gu Yi, founder of Air Scientific.

Gu's experience represented the pain shared by many entrepreneurs who carry the intelligent hardware dream. Mark Zuckerberg could build Facebook website in his dorm, but intelligent hardware fans can't make a piece of excellent intelligent equipment without the supply of chips, modules and a packaging service. They have to afford a lot before launching a product when they don't have two pennies to rub together.

Fortunately, more and more people are willing to pay for others' dreams. In 2014, the maker space began offering intelligent hardware teams a low-priced standardized module production service that covers product prototypes or fewer than 10,000 products. Zhongguancun's intelligent hardware dream plant can offer funding for early development of intelligent hardware through joint stock.

In addition to maker space, Tsinghua University's x-lab, an innovation entrepreneurial platform, also joined the dream lab in April 2014. Zhongguancun takes multiple measures for dream realization

There are various explanations for the biggest characteristics of dreams, such as boldness, difficulties or no costs being spared.

However, these romantic characteristics become a headache for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Accessible technical modules and tools bring together a group of creative talents. Dream labs in Zhongguancun offer more assistance to help young people realize their dreams.

Zhongguancun has unveiled a series of policies to help realize creative, innovative and entrepreneurial dreams. The maker space has been incorporated into the Zhongguancun innovation service support system and is getting funding support. Angel investor guidance funds were established, and more social investment has been drawn in through a few government-led funds. The first national intelligent hardware industry alliance was established to give entrepreneurs support in the whole industry chain, from their innovative ideas to production.

"Beijing has the best venture investment environment in the country and cutting-edge education and scientific research resources, which is incomparable with other regions," said Li Jun, founder of Southwest Jiaotong University's maker space. Wang Shenglin, founder of the maker space in Beijing, believed that in addition to the maker space and Tsinghua University's x-lab, the whole of Zhongguancun is a huge dream lab.