Vela Georgiev is a Melbourne-based engineer who has worked on all aspects of the product development lifecycle, from idea to minimum viable product through to full turnkey manufacture.  She’s been working in Asia for several years (mostly Malaysia and China) and now she’s organised a curated tour to Shenzhen, China in November.

The exciting news is the tour includes a fantastic opportunity – two scholarships for female participants!

“I’ve been wanting to get more familiar with China, particularly as Shenzhen is responsible for around 90 percent of consumer electronics. It has a reputation of being the Silicon Valley of hardware and that’s an amazing concept and I wanted to delve into that a bit deeper.”

“When I moved into consulting last year, I wanted to get involved in the start-up eco system, so I took a six week trip to China to get a bit more in-depth on-the-ground knowledge around start-ups and hardware,” Vela said.

“So I spent several weeks in Shenzhen, travelling around China and connecting with the culture. It was an awesome trip because, previously, I’d mostly done fly-in fly-out trips.  This was the first time I was able to really connect with people in the hardware system and actually do some sightseeing.”

When Vela returned from a recent trip she was inundated with people asking her to take her along ‘next time’ and that gave her the idea to organise a tour – and the scholarships for two women.

“Before I offered the scholarship, I set up registrations on the website and I intended to get a very diverse group together. But I only had males applying – there was even a fifteen year old boy applying… but no women. Then somebody pointed out to me perhaps women weren’t applying because they were worried about the expense. I thought, well that’s easily solved!”

The scholarships:

There are two “Women in Hardware” scholarships available.


   Scholarship value: $4,000
   Recipient co-contribution: $500

To apply, you’ll need to show that you’re a founder/CTO in early stage hardware related start-up with intention to manufacture a physical product. Your start-up must be in the bootstrapping/seed funding stage. Indicators of bootstrapping including working for sweat equity (working without salary or heavy salary sacrifice) for at least three months in the last twelve months and have raised under 500k in seed funding.

 Criteria for a STEM professional

   Scholarship value: $2,850
   Recipient co-contribution: $1650

A STEM Professional who interacts with hardware and physical products in some way eg. product design (mech/elec), software (firmware/cloud), manufacturing/supply chain, etc.


The aim of the HardworX Shenzhen Innovation tour is to build connections, collaborate in a global innovation ecosystem and gain insights into the Shenzhen hardware start-up ecosystem. It will look at what it takes to design and deliver a hardware product at scale.

“While the scholarships exist, we still need minimum numbers of paid participants so the entire tour can go ahead.   If anybody knows someone who is interested but isn’t a candidate for the scholarship, they can register and do their part to ensure that the tour goes ahead.”

Tour dates: November 10 – 18 2017, including the attendance of the Maker Faire in Shenzhen from 11 – 12 November.

Up to 10 participants, keeping the group intimate and customisable to make sure people get the most out of their time in Shenzhen.

Aspects of the tour:

  • Learn about the hardware start-up ecosystem in Shenzhen.
  • Learn about hardware product development, manufacturing and supply chain management.
  • Network and make contact with accelerator programs.
  • Learn about the opportunities for start-ups considering manufacturing in China.
  • Vet potential suppliers and partners.

For details: