The little corner of Beijing that our office is located in never fails to serve up something new and interesting to look at whenever I visit it. On this trip, however, it has really surpassed itself with the new IM Way that is opening up just a few hundred meters away from us.
As the banner that greets you at the entrance to it illustrates, the aim of IM Way is to provide an ecosystem for incubating the development of new hardware startups. Services on offer include include rapid manufacturing, technology R&D, product inspection, testing and certification, and marketing and promotion.
The idea of bringing all these capabilities into a single street to create a hardware innovation cluster for startups is a very interesting one. Instead of having to spend valuable time and resources seeking out assistance from diverse design, development, and prototyping partners, entrepreneurs will have them immediately available on hand. This should not only help reduce the cost and time required to make initial product samples, but also provide a wealth of knowledge and expertise for hardware entrepreneurs to draw on as the surrounding ecosystem grows.
It is of course impossible to predict whether IM Way will ultimately prove to be successful, but the strategy behind it makes a lot of sense. Unlike their software counterparts, hardware startups require much richer infrastructure support to bring their ideas to market than a cool-looking work space with high-speed wireless connectivity a fancy coffee machine.
As far as I know, IM Way is the first street in the world that has been specifically designed to provide a complete hardware startup innovation platform. I’m looking forward to tracking its progress on future trips to Beijing.