SZOIL

A space and a platform for worldwide makers to communicate and cooperate

B4-531, Shihua Road, Shenzhen

Makerspace Industrialisation center Fab Lab

Space size 400 m²

Opened in June 2018

Structure type Private company

Explored in September 2017


SZOIL dedicates in exploring the issues and developing solutions to connect the massive production ecosystem to small hardware startups so as to promote the international standing of Shenzhen in the development of digital intelligent hardware and manufacturing.

Main interests

Entrepreneurship Electronics Robotics Technology - machines & tools Industry & innovation Science & biology Energy & environment Design Education

This workshop is great for:

Every single person & organisation!

The closest workshops nearby are:

Interview & guided tour

Meet someone from the team & discover the space by yourself!

Our workshop

Learn more about our space, members, machines & services!

Shenzhen, the capital of the world for makers. No need to spend more than 1 day in Huaqiangbei to understand the immensity of this place. You can literally find anything you need to develop a hardware product. It might take you a lot more time to understand how to navigate in this world. Especially if you are foreigner and non-Chinese speaker. That is why fablab SZOIL was created to help makers to navigate through Shenzhen.

Shenzhen has a strong innovation and manufacturing culture, due to its history. But its true potential is not easily accessible to foreign companies.

Launched in June 2015, fablab SZOIL helps overseas startups to integrate the Shenzhen ecosystem at early stage, right after their first prototype. It focuses on promoting the open hardware, to lower the development costs for startups looking to manufacture a few hundreds of units as a first batch. Also SZOIL aims to promote the maker spirit to the youth in China, and focuses on developing education courses for high schools and universities.

For 2 years, the lab is helping startups to be connected with the Shenzhen ecosystem of designers, suppliers, manufacturers. The lab also delivers workshops based on the fabacademy programs. SZOIL finally is one of the key events organizers in Shenzhen related to makers, like the Shenzhen Maker Week or Shenzhen Maker at World.

The observation of SZOIL is that concrete innovation is related to speed and creativity, rather than putting too much time on reinventing the wheel and spending too much money on protection. They are building an inventive model that could seduce many makers.

In September 2017, the lab accounts for 50 members (startups and designers) using the space on a regular basis to benefit from the machines and be connected with the Shenzhen Network. The lab delivers workshops to 300 students per year, without taking big events into account (the National mass innovation and entrepreneurship event of 2016 gathered in one week 100 000 people who wanted to attend the daily workshops…).

Most of the Chinese users know the lab through their wechat channels. They have a lot of groups and keep each of them daily updated of the lab’s activities. The foreigners know the lab thanks to David Li’s notoriety and participation to many events.

Most of the users are joining the lab to learn new skills or discover new areas. Startups are looking to produce their first batch of product (usually a hundreds of units) while some companies located in the neighbourhood are looking for using the machines.

SZOIL fablab has been initially funded by Maker Collider and SIDA. Today this place is a private company. In 2016, 70% of its revenues were linked to workshops provided by the team, 20% came from events organized mainly for the government and 10% from the startups programs. In terms of costs, materials seems to be the largest item of expenditure, right before the salaries and the rent, which is lower as a part of the space is shared with a design company.

The team is now looking to focus on an incubation program for overseas startups to really help them to prototype and manufacture in Shenzhen. This activity is seen as a test, as many startups in the early stage still struggle financially.

Regarding education, the main opportunity is for them to partner with schools (medium and high schools) and include maker workshops as part of the students’ curriculum. The education system seems harder to move than in universities, but it seems to be a trend in Asia.

In September 2017, SZOIL team was gathering 8 full time employees:

  • 1 founder: David Li

  • 1 managing Director: Vicky Xie

  • 1 Project manager: taking care of startup teams projects

  • 1 Engineer: developing new technologies to be applied in worshops

  • 1 Manager assistant: helping to follow the startup projects

  • 1 Accountant

  • 1 Bio Academy manager

  • 1 Tutor: coordinating with schools and teachers. (They work with 2 or 3 schools today).

The startups pre series monitoring:

Vicky, managing director of SZOIL explained us how they help a startup developing a pet tracker to go from idea to prototype within 1 month. They connected them with independent design companies and independent industrial designers to find out if any existing hardware solution could fit their quality and design requirements. As only a few adjustments were needed, they were able to complete the final prototype for a first batch of 100 units in one month.

The workshops organized:

The focus of SZOIL is to provide educational workshops to universities and students:

  • University semester class: SZOIL delivers a 10-week program (every Sunday) to work on AI, robotics… to students in 2 universities

  • Summer Camp: 1 full week dedicated to build a project with students. The last one took place in a village near Shenzhen, to build a beehive based on open source plans.

  • Fabacademy program

  • Maker program for universities: 10 days to build a product and meet with Shenzhen ecosystem for students.

  • Exploring program: learning expeditions organized with companies to meet with Shenzhen ecosystem.

  • Bioacademy program: started since 2017.

The documentation is not compulsory for the members of the fablab, despite the fact that it is highly encouraged. Every workshop is documented by the participants. They are taught by the team how to proceed, and each student has to make a short video at the end of the workshop to explain what he did and how he felt. All this content is then shared via wechat. Regarding sources of inspiration, they look on instructables and fabacademy projects.

Shenzhen, the capital of the world for makers. No need to spend more than 1 day in Huaqiangbei to understand the immensity of this place. You can literally find anything you need to develop a hardware product. It might take you a lot more time to understand how to navigate in this world. Especially if you are foreigner and non-Chinese speaker. That is why fablab SZOIL was created to help makers to navigate through Shenzhen.

Shenzhen has a strong innovation and manufacturing culture, due to its history. But its true potential is not easily accessible to foreign companies.

Launched in June 2015, fablab SZOIL helps overseas startups to integrate the Shenzhen ecosystem at early stage, right after their first prototype. It focuses on promoting the open hardware, to lower the development costs for startups looking to manufacture a few hundreds of units as a first batch. Also SZOIL aims to promote the maker spirit to the youth in China, and focuses on developing education courses for high schools and universities.

For 2 years, the lab is helping startups to be connected with the Shenzhen ecosystem of designers, suppliers, manufacturers. The lab also delivers workshops based on the fabacademy programs. SZOIL finally is one of the key events organizers in Shenzhen related to makers, like the Shenzhen Maker Week or Shenzhen Maker at World.

The observation of SZOIL is that concrete innovation is related to speed and creativity, rather than putting too much time on reinventing the wheel and spending too much money on protection. They are building an inventive model that could seduce many makers.

In September 2017, the lab accounts for 50 members (startups and designers) using the space on a regular basis to benefit from the machines and be connected with the Shenzhen Network. The lab delivers workshops to 300 students per year, without taking big events into account (the National mass innovation and entrepreneurship event of 2016 gathered in one week 100 000 people who wanted to attend the daily workshops…).

Most of the Chinese users know the lab through their wechat channels. They have a lot of groups and keep each of them daily updated of the lab’s activities. The foreigners know the lab thanks to David Li’s notoriety and participation to many events.

Most of the users are joining the lab to learn new skills or discover new areas. Startups are looking to produce their first batch of product (usually a hundreds of units) while some companies located in the neighbourhood are looking for using the machines.

SZOIL fablab has been initially funded by Maker Collider and SIDA. Today this place is a private company. In 2016, 70% of its revenues were linked to workshops provided by the team, 20% came from events organized mainly for the government and 10% from the startups programs. In terms of costs, materials seems to be the largest item of expenditure, right before the salaries and the rent, which is lower as a part of the space is shared with a design company.

The team is now looking to focus on an incubation program for overseas startups to really help them to prototype and manufacture in Shenzhen. This activity is seen as a test, as many startups in the early stage still struggle financially.

Regarding education, the main opportunity is for them to partner with schools (medium and high schools) and include maker workshops as part of the students’ curriculum. The education system seems harder to move than in universities, but it seems to be a trend in Asia.

In September 2017, SZOIL team was gathering 8 full time employees:

  • 1 founder: David Li

  • 1 managing Director: Vicky Xie

  • 1 Project manager: taking care of startup teams projects

  • 1 Engineer: developing new technologies to be applied in worshops

  • 1 Manager assistant: helping to follow the startup projects

  • 1 Accountant

  • 1 Bio Academy manager

  • 1 Tutor: coordinating with schools and teachers. (They work with 2 or 3 schools today).

The startups pre series monitoring:

Vicky, managing director of SZOIL explained us how they help a startup developing a pet tracker to go from idea to prototype within 1 month. They connected them with independent design companies and independent industrial designers to find out if any existing hardware solution could fit their quality and design requirements. As only a few adjustments were needed, they were able to complete the final prototype for a first batch of 100 units in one month.

The workshops organized:

The focus of SZOIL is to provide educational workshops to universities and students:

  • University semester class: SZOIL delivers a 10-week program (every Sunday) to work on AI, robotics… to students in 2 universities

  • Summer Camp: 1 full week dedicated to build a project with students. The last one took place in a village near Shenzhen, to build a beehive based on open source plans.

  • Fabacademy program

  • Maker program for universities: 10 days to build a product and meet with Shenzhen ecosystem for students.

  • Exploring program: learning expeditions organized with companies to meet with Shenzhen ecosystem.

  • Bioacademy program: started since 2017.

The documentation is not compulsory for the members of the fablab, despite the fact that it is highly encouraged. Every workshop is documented by the participants. They are taught by the team how to proceed, and each student has to make a short video at the end of the workshop to explain what he did and how he felt. All this content is then shared via wechat. Regarding sources of inspiration, they look on instructables and fabacademy projects.

Technologies & processes available

3D printing CNC milling Electronics Laser cutting Wood working tools Traditional tools

Services offered

Prototyping Exchange programs Learning expeditions Talks & conferences Startups & projects hosting Classes & workshops FabAcademy curriculum BioAcademy curriculum

Our best practices

The inspiring things we do here to run our collaborative space

The Hello Shenzhen Program

What is it?
Hello Shenzhen is an exchange program between makers from UK and China. It has been set up in March 2017 between the British Council, The Shenzhen Foundation for International Exchange and Cooperation and Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab

In concrete terms?

This exchange program brings 10 makers from China to work in UK and 10 makers from UK in Shenzhen. Each of them is working in a startup, a makerspace, and experiences the maker culture on the themes of education, sustainability, community development and enterprise. Each of the maker has to write an article on what he learned at the end of the program.

Why it’s interesting?

This exchange program helps to promote the maker movement and the share of good practices internationally. It builds connections between makers and emphazises the share of knowledge and collaboration between countries.


The maker workshops certification for students

What is it?

SZOIL organizes its makers boot camps in partnership with agencies for students, which delivers official certifications.

In concrete terms?

During a Maker boot camp, students learn new skills as well as project management. At the end of the course they can get an official certification, which is recognized internationally.

Why it’s interesting?

This certification helps students to get recognition for their learning and skills, and it helps the makers workshops to get an international recognition.


Our makers projects

Get inspired by the DIY projects of our team & members

Running the BioAcademy program in a Fab Lab

Bio Academy is a Synthetic Biology Program directed by George Church, professor of Genetics at Harvard medical school. The Bio Academy is a part of the growing Academy of (almost) Anything, or the Academany. And SZOIL is one of the first Fab Labs in the world to run this amazing program!


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