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Today Startup Weekend (part of Techstars Community Programs) is excited to announce we have partnered with Haier M-Lab in China. Startup Weekend and Haier M-Lab are combining forces to launch a China-wide initiative: Startup Weekend Youth Maker.

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Startup Weekend Youth Maker is bringing Startup Weekend and hardware innovation to Chinese universities. Starting this fall 2015, events will be held across the country for university students. It aims to bring more makers and entrepreneurs into mentorship-driven, hardware innovation.

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Haier is considered one of China’s most innovative companies, according to a 2014 report by Fast Company. Headquartered in Qingdao, China, Haier has world’s largest market share in white goods (large electrical goods used domestically such as refrigerators and washing machines, etc.). The company designs, develops, manufactures and sells a wide-range of products such as air conditioners, televisions, refrigerators, mobile phones and more.

M-Lab is an innovation project from Haier that serves as incubation platform for early stage projects and entrepreneurs at Chinese universities. Haier M-Lab has both online and offline operations for cultivating these ecosystems. They value innovation, openness, and collaboration across the whole platform–making it a great fit for the Startup Weekend model.

M-Lab also integrates leading companies around the world, maker spaces, venture capitalists, supply chain resources and sales channels (online and offline). Thus, it is able to provide a multidisciplinary, ideation and incubation system, including interactive experience with smart products, open source software, business plan creation, investment, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and much more.

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Photos from the first Startup Weekend Maker Edition in Qingdao, China in May 2015. Simultaneous Startup Weekend Maker events were held in Paris and Brussels.

M-Lab and Startup Weekend have actually already successfully worked together on the first Startup Weekend Maker in Qingdao on May 29-31. Hosted at Haier’s corporate headquarters, the event brought together local participants, students and Haier employees. After 54 hours, multiple teams had successfully created prototypes. On Sunday they pitched their business visions to an expert panel of judges. These included Liu Daping (刘达平) from Yeelink, Wang Shenglin (⺩盛林) from Beijing Maker Space, Daniel Litster from Hynergy and several others. Several projects are still on-going.

At present, Haier continues to innovate and created amazing new products. It has multiple, innovation initiatives both internal and external. M-Lab is a new initiative focusing on internet of things and maker hardware projects.

On Saturday, September 12, 2015, representatives from Haier, Haier M-Lab, Startup Weekend and other partners held a joint media announcement event in one of Beijing’s innovation space. Innovation and startup experts discussed the challenges for startups and makers in China and differences with international startup scene.

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Song Fen, Founder of Haier M-Lab, present past and future ambitions for China’s Youth Makers.

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Mark Koester, Regional Development for Greater China for Techstars Community Program, presents the history of Startup Weekend and the Entrepreneur’s Journey.

Startup Weekend Youth Maker will combine Startup Weekend’s classic 54-hour model of ideation, team formation and business development with hardware prototyping. Teams and participants will get expert mentorship from Haier and community partners. Post-event, M-Lab will bring new opportunities for top projects. They plan to provide on-going mentorship, funding, incubation and access to Haier’s resources.

Beyond the weekend and even beyond China, the hope is to bring top Chinese project to the US via programs like Startup Next and one day even to Techstars’ hardware and robotics Accelerators.

Starting this September, we will be hosting Startup Weekend Youth Maker at universities in the following cities: Beijing, Hangzhou, Harbin, Jinan, Nanjing, Wuhan, and Qingdao among others. M-Lab also joins as one of Startup Weekend’s China national sponsors. Haier joins Servcorp, Qingcloud and EFC in their support of Startup Weekend in China. With this support, community programs will continue to grow in the Greater China Region.

Startup Weekend (part of Techstars Community Programs) is proud to partner with Haier M-Lab to help build communities, strengthen ecosystems and to educate the next generation of Youth Makers.

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Team from Haier M-Lab celebrating their successful media event for Youth Maker and Startup Weekend Youth Maker


More about Haier’s innovative spirit:

As a company, Haier’s origins date back to the early 1920s. It has a long history of dedication to innovation. Haier’s former leader Zhang Ruimin is well-known in China for his dramatic act of corporate rejuvenation for the company.

Arriving in 1984, Zhang focused on improving quality. After discovering major quality problems in their inventory of refrigerators, he took a bold step. He famously had the several faulty refrigerators lined up on the factory floor. Sledgehammers were distributed to the employees, and Zhang ordered them to destroy the refrigerators. This symbolic act sparked a company rebirth.

Mitchell Cuevas
(@mcuevasm) I am the Sr. Marketing Director here at Techstars, am passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and am obsessed with finding, playing with, and implementing all the best new marketing (and other) technology I can get my hands on.