By Stephen Whalley, Chief Strategy Officer, MEMS Industry Group
It was over 10 years ago that I last visited Shanghai and oh my, how things have changed, most visibly, the skyline. Looking across the Huangpu River from The Bund back then, I clearly remember the ‘Pearl’ TV tower and a few tall buildings and thought how impressive it looked. Now, the view is an even more sumptuous feast for the eyes, day or night, and it keeps on growing and evolving. So too does the connectivity of the buildings and the people that live and work in Shanghai as the Internet of ‘Things’ brings it all together locally and globally.
Shanghai circa 2001
I was in Shanghai to co-host the inaugural MEMS Industry Group (MIG) Conference Shanghai, September 11-12th, with our local partners, the Shanghai Industrial Technology Research Institute (SITRI) and the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT). The theme was the Internet of Things and how the MEMS and Sensors supply chain needs to evolve to address the explosive growth in China.
As one of our featured speakers, Jérémie Bouchaud of IHS pointed out, China-based smartphone vendors such as Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi Technology and Oppo collectively make China the third largest handset manufacturer globally behind Apple and Samsung. With each handset having a dozen or more MEMS and sensor components, it’s easy to see why China’s government, research organizations, OEMs and investment funds are paying attention to this market. They also see where it’s going beyond these mobile consumer electronic devices of today. With the rise of smart cities, buildings, farms, homes, vehicles, wearable devices and more — where clusters of sensors abound — the hockey-stick growth predictions are gathering momentum.
With that background, over 150 attendees from China and 15 other countries came together to hear and discuss what’s needed to meet this opportunity. New technologies and products, fabs, funding and city infrastructure were all covered throughout the conference. It was clear that the international MEMS/sensors suppliers do not want to blink and miss the opportunity (as some already have, and to their detriment) and that the local MEMS/sensors community wants to ensure they do all they can to build a self-sustaining supply chain in and around Shanghai. MEMS Industry Group members can access all the great presentations here.
For the time being, the potential and high stakes for all sides means that the Shanghai skyline will be a familiar sight for locals and visitors to cast their eyes, and ‘inter-nets,’ over. And just as the skyline has grown dramatically, it appears the MEMS and sensors industry in China is on the rise too.
To view photos of the inaugural event, visit our Flickr page!