Taiwan has plenty of resources for manufacturing, and is world-renowned for the quality its processing industry. There was a time when the words “Made in Taiwan” were all over the world, but as more and more startups emerge, these resources are no longer being used effectively, and even starting to decline. To make matters worse, Shenzhen has earned the title of the “Silicon Valley of Hardware” and took away all the attention from Taiwan, which has a similar background and resources. Taiwan should prove to the world with its local manufacturing energy that Shenzhen is not their only option. If we can somehow bring the demand(Maker to Market) and the supply(the resources) in the manufacturing ecosystem together, not only will Taiwan’s innovations be visible to the world, its local resources will also be available to them.
The most straightforward objective of this project is to find the designers or manufacturers who are willing to take small orders from Makers, or more ideally become partners with them. For example, Shiin Shern, the company that became the base for the Iron Makers Workshop, or the factory that made the Lulu’s Hand coffee filter cup for Professor Alvin Su. The initial phase of this project is to arrange visits to about 10 factories, and have the Makers talk to factory owners in person so they can understand each other right away, and even spark something creative.
On March 12, the first internal meeting was held. With Metro Product Inc. as the company to start off the localized manufacturing project, experts from various industries were invited, who are all social partners with MakerPRO, namely media and marketing expert Owen, who is also the founder of MakerPRO, Ray Tai who excels at EMS, David Peng the product development and design expert, backend service designer Licter, and Metro Product Inc. General Manager Dennis. They all came to the meeting as the think tank of this project and discussed its objectives and positioning.
Some of the core issues and clarifications discussed in the agenda are:
Why is the integration of the supply and the demand of resources necessary?
1. When a Maker or a startup team has an idea but no capital, the resources required to make the products can still lower their threshold into the market, without spending much money. Meanwhile, good ideas are what many manufacturers are looking for.
2. When a Maker needs a small amount of manufacturing, he might not know how to communicate with the manufacturer during Proof of Concepts and Design for Manufacturing. This is where the localized manufacturing resources come in, to help them communicate and push the good idea to the next phase.
3. Lastly and also most importantly, bringing Bottom-up and Top-down resources together is good to both the supply and the demand sides, or in the entire economic environment, which refers to Taiwan’s future opportunities to participate in the manufacturing demands from Makers all over world.
Startups or small-scale Makers, how can manufacturers help them?
The manufacturing industry covers every aspect of the ecosystem: prototype design, production, packaging, marketing, and distributing, they are all linked to the industry. If we can add “demand” into the ecosystem, and manufacturers can think of helping Makers finish their products as a resource input, instead of an investment, good ideas will become great ideas, thus better products can be made.
Metro Product Inc. offers customers the complete service package from design to manufacturing. They have all the resources for design, which include industrial design, model making, institutional design, design exhibition, molding, and so on. General Manager Dennis has put forward that Metro Product Inc. is able to help design students with their Maker projects as their resource input on the design aspect. This means that they will turn your tissue-box-cover-sized prototypes into multifunctional, exquisite smartphones. Relatively, if localized manufacturing really goes hand in hand with Makers, the manufacturers would be more than just outsourced contractors, they would be supporting creativity with their craft as business partners of the Makers.
This project will also be building a systemized and concretized yellow pages database so it can be fully optimized. The Maker x Localized Manufacturing Project not only aims to bring together Taiwan’s local resources but also resources of the world. The yellow pages database might one day be connected to the Maker/HW Startup communities of the western world, allowing every Maker with demands to find the resources he needs. It can also help small and medium-sized businesses transform and enter the world of innovation!
Since Taiwan already has a strong industry and is one of the best in quality and productivity, we should definitely advertise these advantages to the world, not to compete with or imitate Shenzhen, but just show them what we can do. This will eventually revive the industry and make Taiwan the attraction to Makers and innovators from all over the world.