Key players in Asia’s maker movement

  1 Comment
3d printer 590

3D printer at work. Image: Keith Kissel

Asia’s maker movement is well underway, with startups, ecosystems, and spaces augmenting the rising interest in hardware-software innovation. While the Internet has encroached on us, much of our lives still occur in the world of atoms, which contains plenty of opportunities that are untouched by Internet companies.

To be clear, the maker movement and the rise of hardware-software companies in Asia are two different trends, though they feed into each other. The maker movement is more akin to a subculture that promotes a DIY spirit in electronics, 3D printing, and robotics. Companies that combine hardware and software innovation in new, interesting ways are both benefactors and sustainers of this spirit.

Which is why I am lumping them together here — for the movement to grow, enthusiasts need to see a progression from hobby to multi-million (or billion) dollar business.

Makerspaces and investors

Dim Sum Labs: Creative community space in Hong Kong brimming with subtractive and additive manufacturing tools.
Printer Linker: Holds workshops in Hong Kong to educate consumers about 3D printers.
FabCafe: Hardware community spaces in Tokyo and Taipei.
TMI: A startup incubator in Taipei with a hardware acceleration program.
XinCheJian: A hackerspace in Shanghai.
HAXLR8R: Hardware accelerator program in Shenzhen.
Sustainable Living Lab: A makerspace in Singapore with a social enterprise bent.
Hackerspace.SG: Singapore co-working space that caters to geeks in general but also hosts a community of hardware enthusiasts.
Co.Lab by Silicon Straits: Singapore-based Co-working space with a fab lab. Company does software development and startup investments too.
Karkhana: Based in Kathmandu, the makerspace’s mission is to catalyze a culture of experimentation in Nepal.

Startups and companies

3D printer makers/ open hardware service providers

DFRobot: Besides making 3D printers, it operates an online store selling all sorts of open hardware parts.
Makible: Hong Kong company selling 3D printers from USD 200.
Pirate3D: Singapore-based 3D printer maker which raised USD 1.43M on Kickstarter, 14 times its initial goal.
Portabee: Cheap 3D printer based on open-source design RepRap Wallace. Based in Singapore.
Prototype.Asia: Prints prototypes for clients. Owns high-end 3D printers. Based in Singapore.
12Geeks: A Singapore-based online store for buying Raspberry Pi and Arduino.
Yeelink: An online collaboration platform and service provider for makers in China.
Seeed Studio: An online distributor of open hardware parts. Based in China, distributes worldwide. Its list of distributors in Asia is worth a look. Many of them sell parts online.

Hardware-software innovation

Roam & Wander: Taiwanese startup making iPhone enabled toys. Raised USD 25k on Kickstarter.
Sassor: Japanese company that allows small offices and restaurants to manage their electricity consumption easily.
RedBearLab: Makes Bluetooth Low Energy boards that are Arduino-compatible. Based in Hong Kong.
Robugtix: Hong Kong company selling bio-inspired spider robots.
HEX Air Robot: A company from China that’s creating an open source platform for aerial personal drones.
Codlo: Malaysian startup that transforms rice cookers into sous vide machines. Past the halfway mark in its USD 148K Kickstarter campaign.
Vibease: Software-enabled sex vibrator. Based in Singapore.
Intellect Motion: Singapore company making gesture control gloves for the living room. They’re collecting feedback for a Kickstarter campaign, set to launch in August.
Sutajio Ko-Usagi: Open-source hardware company by Andrew “bunnie” Huang, an American, Singapore-based hardware hacker (formerly of Chumby).


HackJam: A weekly meetup of hackers, artists, techies for the purpose of hacking interesting stuff. Held in Hong Kong.
Mini Maker Faires in Singapore, Taiwan, Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
Singapore Makers Meetup: A bi-monthly gathering.

Online communities

ArduinoCN: An online forum for Arduino enthusiasts in China.
Geek-workshop: Another forum from China, focusing on open source hardware in general. A forum for China’s Raspberry Pi enthusiasts.

I’m pretty sure I missed something. Write in the comments section and tell me who you think should be in this list.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

Read More