Asia Coworking Spaces Are Becoming In-House Innovation Hubs


This is article is an excerpt from the 2018 Asia Coworking Trends report. Download the full report here for extensive insights into the trends driving coworking across the region.

The lifespan of large and successful companies, especially those in the Fortune 500 list, is getting shorter every year, with only 12% of those companies have survived between 1955 and 2016. Creative destruction and market disruption are driving them out of business as they lack the dynamism and innovation that are crucial for survival in a hypercompetitive global economy.

Thankfully, the advent of new economy and consumer-oriented companies and their constant hunger for innovation to come up with new products have got everyone’s attention. Partnering with entrepreneurial organizations, networking, sponsoring and supporting innovation has never been more advantageous to bigger companies.

Connecting the Start-up and Corporate Communities

How do coworking facilities fit into this whole scenario? This is where companies are working with techies, entrepreneurs and creatives and are building start-up community connections to come up with new ideas that they can scale up and convert to a business solution. Companies like Google are associating with startup communities/coworking operators across regions.

This is mutually beneficial as Google supports members of such coworking spaces by providing technical and business support, and infrastructure while partnering in their success.

Successful start-ups can expand their business and create new jobs, eventually growing multifold. Start-up communities and coworking spaces will positively impact local economies by creating a wider variety of jobs. Interestingly, some corporations are starting their own coworking facilities to innovate and experiment through in-house collaboration using incubators and accelerator programs for start-ups.

Asia Coworking Examples

Some examples are Unilever’s Level 3, a 22,000 sqft space located at its regional headquarters in Mapletree Business City, Singapore. Level 3 is not only a space for startups to park their belongings and base their operations, but also for Unilever teams to visit the space easily and connect with companies and ideas they find interesting.

Some examples in the financial sector include the Vault by DBS, a dedicated 5,000 sf open plan and multifunctional facility in Hong Kong, LumenLab, a 7,800 sqft innovation center by MetLife in Singapore, and The Open Vault, a 2,400 sf fintech innovation center by OCBC bank, also in Singapore. They function like coworking spaces and work with start-ups besides being incubation hubs themselves. Their proximity to parent organizations is purposely designed to share the energy and buzz of the open and collaborative environment, as well as provide access to more resources, proven processes, and a culture of innovation.

Managing Cost

For occupiers who wish to be prudent on costs and are committed to flexible working practices over a long term, implementing coworking inhouse makes perfect sense. Though branded as start-up hubs or accelerators, they provide parent companies and start-ups access to state of the art facilities, meeting rooms, break-out areas and networking events that are common at regular coworking facilities. They can also be a great source of talent when companies are hiring.

The financial sector has been quick to adopt this but other industries, especially tech, professional services and engineering, are slowly catching up. Many are experimenting with such plans on a smaller scale and the trend is likely to gain momentum as companies realize the true potential of working with innovative and product-ready start-ups in a shared working environment. Nurturing new ideas and experimenting with multiple start-up communities and entrepreneurs have become critical for companies that are willing to break down silos and are ready to target innovation-led longevity and sustainability.

To find out more about the major trends leading the coworking revolution in Asia, download our report here.

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