Maker movement gains traction


PETALING JAYA: The Maker Movement is picking up steam, with groups emerging in Penang and here, say community members 

TE4P founder Curry Khoo, 38, defined the Maker movement as people who create things - whether it is do-it-yourself (DIY) technology, arts and crafts, fashion or food - usually to solve a problem through innovation.

He added that regionally Makers were mostly associated with technology and digital projects, as those tended to get more support and sponsorship from the Government, corporates and media.

As part of Budget 2017, the Prime Minister declared 2017 to be the year of the Internet Economy, which put more focus on Digital Makers.

TE4P, which held the license to organise the Mini Maker Faire in Penang, said the movement was burgeoning even outside Penang, with attendees coming from the Klang Valley and even from oversea countries like Thailand and Indonesia.

They would be organising the faire in Penang in September, and were in talks to have one here in November.

"The maker scene in Malaysia is very healthy, it's just that it isn't consolidated," said Khoo, referring to how those in different categories tended to work in their own silos.

He said the movement would have more impact if everybody worked together, warning that when a small group worked alone it would slowly die off.

MonJi founder Bong Yu Liang, 23, agreed, saying if the groups came together, they would be able to enhance each other by sharing information and perspectives from different fields.

Bong, whose recycling machine was unveiled at the Penang Mini Maker Faire last October, said the movement was getting more traction since he first heard about while still in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, back in 2013 

"The maker movement has become more organised and gotten more exposure especially youngsters," he said.

He added that to take the movement to the next level, the ecosystems would need more mentors and investors to help commercialise the products.

In Klang Valley, social enterprise Biji-biji Initiative empowered communities to become Makers through their Open Workshops which provided guidance on how designing a product and machinery to bring it into reality.

The Initiative founded in 2012, encouraged up-cycling (upgrading recycled items) by using wood waste, scrap metals, diesel drums, and even bicycle wheels in their workshops.

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