Maker T and his Wolverine prosthetic. Photo: Andrew Sleigh
Maker T and his Wolverine prosthetic. Photo: Andrew Sleigh




In this podcast series, Lighthouse Creative Producer Andrew Sleigh heads to Shenzhen to meet the makers working in China’s world-leading centre of electronics manufacturing.

James from Steamhead taking teachers on a tour of Shenzhen Maker Faire
James from Steamhead taking teachers on a tour of Shenzhen Maker Faire

Thirty years ago, Shenzhen was little more than a fishing village with around 30,000 inhabitants. Today it is a modern metropolis with a population approaching 15 million.

This phenomenal growth has been driven by the area’s development as a manufacturing ecosystem. A place where innovators can get a product designed, prototyped, mass-produced and distributed without leaving the city. A place where a huge multinational electronics manufacturing company can build a complex the size of a small town, complete with factories, dormitories, banks, restaurants, hospitals, and even TV stations, to attract a talented workforce and win business from the world’s tech giants.

“You can come here with nothing, and leave with a commercial product.”Christian Moterrey, Suit Dreamz

Products manufactured in Shenzhen are distributed worldwide. The chances are that you have many in your home. Foxconn alone, one of the biggest multinationals, has a client list including Blackberry, Kindle, Nokia, Apple, PlayStation and many more.

More recently, Shenzhen has become a magnet for international entrepreneurs, drawn by the fact that, in Shenzhen, they can bring their products to market faster, cheaper, and more successfully than anywhere else in the world.

In this series, Andrew speaks to some of Shenzhen’s grassroots makers, maker-entrepreneurs, designers, and manufacturers about their products and passions, and to find out what it’s like to be part of China’s thriving electronics community.

Hello Shenzhen is a bilateral residency exchange programme connecting makers in the UK and China, funded by the British Council. Andrew visited the city in November 2017.

This podcast series includes six episodes. Check back for future episodes or follow us on Twitter @LighthouseArts or on Facebook for updates. All the episodes can also be listened to on Apple Podcasts.

EPISODE 1 – Live at Shenzhen Maker Faire 2017

Andrew heads to Shenzhen Maker Faire, which hosts 200+ makers, forums and workshops, and attracts an international audience of thousands.

Here, he speaks to some of this year’s participants including a local hobbyist making Wolverine-esque prosthetics; the business product manager at a successful open-source hardware development company; and a 12-year-old South Korean student hoping to make the robots of the future.

Music by Audiobinger

Featured Makers
Maker T – grassroots maker creating a Wolverine-esque prosthetic
Björn Mauritz – Bitcraze open source mini-quadcopters
Mandy Xiang – Business Product Manager at Seeed Studio
Christian Moterrey from Utec Peru – Suit Dreamz
Jeong Jiu, 12-year-old student from South Korea – Future Tech Academy
Aisling – MG Space, providing education and support for young entrepreneurs

EPISODE 2 – Christina Zhang co-founder of Kittenbot

Andrew talks to Christina about her passion for creating educational robot kits, challenging sexism, the difference between British and Chinese entrepreneurialism, and surviving in Shenzhen’s fiercely competitive technology market.

Music by Audiobinger

Episode Links
Programming languages and platforms: Scratch, Arduino, Python
Chris Anderson – Makers: The New Industrial Revolution
The BOM (Bill of Materials)
The narrative about Shanzhai which seems to be most commonly shared today. (It is not uncontested.)

EPISODE 3 – Vicky Xie, global cooperation director of SZOIL (Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab)

Andrew and Vicky talk about open source, copycat products, industry work-life balance, embracing the free market, and Shanzhai, an approach to technology development which, after a complicated past, is now credited with fuelling Shenzhen’s rapid innovation culture.

Music by Blank & Kytt

Episode Links
Shanzhai, Gongban and Gongmo
Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship in China

Hello Shenzhen: Lighthouse China Trip

Hello Shenzhen is a partnership between the British Council, The Shenzhen Foundation for International Exchange and Cooperation and Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab. Hello Shenzhen is the next iteration of the Shenzhen Foundation For International Exchange and Cooperation’s flagship programme Shenzhen Makers@World.

Hello Shenzhen is developed in partnership with Liz Corbin, Institute of Making, UCL and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

British Council Logo



Join our e-mailing list and be kept up to date with all of our news & activity.