In a calm workspace above the bustling Huaqiangbei electronics market in Shenzhen, China, engineer Xiong Chang reaches for a metal part sitting on the desk behind him.
It might not look special but it’s a powerful example of why his UK-based tech start-up has chosen “China’s Silicon Valley”.
“A quote for that [part] in a factory in the US would be several thousands of dollars and they’d probably quote you a lead time of maybe two, three weeks,” Chang says.
“This same piece, we can get it back in three days from a factory here and for less than a hundred dollars.”
Chang’s company is building a prototype agricultural robot that kills weeds by spraying hot oil on them, potentially solving the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds plaguing the world’s farms.