Makeblock Opens New Branch Office in Japan, Launches Airblock Modular Programmable Drone in Partnership with SoftBank

Makeblock, a leading provider of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational products including hardware, software, programming courses and robotics competitions, announced the opening of their new branch office in Japan. In addition, its new product Airblock, the modular programmable drone for beginners, was jointly released with its strategic partner SoftBank and will be available to Japanese customers starting July 14.

Established in 2013, Makeblock Co., Ltd is headquartered in Shenzhen – China’s Silicon Valley – with 45 percent of the total 450 employees being R&D personnel. As a leading company in the STEM education, Makeblock offers its own one-stop platform to lower the barrier for people to learn, create and construct. To date, over 2 million people across 140 countries have fulfilled their dream of learning and creating using Makeblock products. As the first step of an international expansion, the Japan branch office will mainly focus on expanding the new market and exploring partnership opportunities.

Makeblock SoftBank Partnership and Joint Release of Airblock

SoftBank signed on as strategic partner to Makeblock at the end of 2016, to distribute educational robotics kits, including mBot, mBot Ranger and Ultimate, through its retail channels. At a July press conference, the two companies jointly released the new flagship product Airblock – a modular programmable drone – and announce SoftBank as the exclusive distributor of Airblock in Japan. SoftBank will make Airblock available to its retail partners YAMADA, Bic Camera, Yodobashi, and other retail and online channels starting July 14, at a price of JPY 22,000 (pre-tax).

Airblock feature set

  • DIY: Airblock’s modular structure lets users easily transform it from drone to hovercraft, and build their own DIY vehicles.
  • Play and Learn: With the Makeblock app, both children and adults are able to easily control the craft and learn to program using a graphic interface.
  • Unique Magnetic Connectors: Quickly and easily snap modules in place and re-assemble into new forms without need for tools.
  • Safe for Indoor Play: Motors are designed with propeller guards to be durable for safety and durability, and a soft exterior made from soft and environmentally friendly EPP foam.

Enormous Potential for STEM Education in Japan

The worldwide trend of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), a term originating from U.S. education policies, are seeing increased adoption in Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has recently passed a resolution to universally promote programming education in primary schools starting from 2020, with budget being allocated starting this year. Seeing the great prospects of the STEM education industry, SoftBank has entered into a strategic partnership with Makeblock and formed a team of industry leaders to contribute to a more comprehensive education environment in Japan.

Japan is an increasingly important market. It is our pleasure to have SoftBank as our partner to promote STEM education as part of our entry into the Japanese market. We welcome local enterprises join us as partners in a shared effort to accelerate the progress of STEM education in Japan,” said Jasen Wang, CEO and Founder of Makeblock. Jasen further added, “Japan has superior and advanced technology in the robotics industry, but ‘STEM education’ is less understood by the public compared to other developed countries. We believe Makeblock could be an important actor in introducing STEM education to Japanese customers and inviting them to try it firsthand.”

Tetsuo Kuramitsu, CEO of SoftBank C&S said, “In Japan, programming education has incredible potential and SoftBank C&S has paid close attention to the Japanese educational robotics market. During this time, we encountered Makeblock, the leading company in this industry, and decided to join them in promoting robotics as educational tools. We believe that the partnership between SoftBank and Makeblock will increase access to excellent products and provide additional value to educators, students and parents in Japan. As Makeblock is officially entering Japan today, we aim to work together with Makeblock closely and to create solutions that cater to the Japanese market.”

Taking Lead of the Global Market

Setting up the Japan branch office and jointly releasing Airblock are the first steps of Makeblock’s global strategy. Committed to being the most respected education and entertainment robotics brand, Makeblock is fully focused on providing world-leading products for STEM education to lower the barriers to learning and creating.