A total of 12 prominent makers and entrepreneurs from home and abroad were invited to share their insights about sustainable innovation during the Global Maker Sustainable Innovation and Development Forum held in Shenzhen on Thursday.

One of the guest speakers was Stephanie Santoso, a founding board member of the Nation of Makers in the United States. “I believe that sustainable innovation and development is about how we can continue to expand the variety of solutions and products that we can create while being socially and environmentally responsible in the meantime,” she said.

During her keynote speech, Santoso mentioned several maker projects aimed at tackling social problems in the United States as examples of how makers can make the world a better place through innovation.

One of the projects, called E-Nable, has distributed over 2,000 low-cost customized prostheses to handicapped people, especially needy children, by utilizing 3-D printing technology. According to her, each person’s prosthesis usually costs US$6,000 to 10,000, but a prosthesis produced by E-Nable only costs US$25 to 50.

Another project called Girls Garage is a girls-focused maker space that enables school-aged girls to design and build furniture for local women’s shelters during summer camps. “It’s really an opportunity for these girls to understand that the skills that they are immediately learning are also immediately valuable for solving problems and helping other people,” Santoso said.

As a former senior adviser at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House, Santoso said makers in China should pay more attention to designing for manufacturability while keeping environmental sustainability in mind, utilize platform technologies produced in China and position maker spaces and hacker spaces as sites for civic engagement.

Another guest speaker, Ben Wong, is head of Global Sources Launchpad, an organization that mainly helps hardware startups reach out to global distributors. Wong believes that retail is the first thing that hardware startups should think about before manufacturing a product.

According to him, hardware startups should understand their distribution channels, price their products correctly, show a well-thought-out marketing plan and control supply chain management in order to make their businesses successful. Instead of being a “one-hit wonder,” startups should continue expanding the variety of their products to tap the market, Wong said.

As one of the “Innovating China” events initiated by the National Development and Reform Commission and the China Association for Science and Technology, the forum was co-hosted by the Shenzhen Industrial Design Profession Association and Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab.

(Source: Shenzhen Daily)