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WeWork Labs launched in China to bet on innovation-driven growth

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 12, 2019
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Young professionals at work at a co-working space of WeWork in Shanghai. This facility was rebuilt on a traditional English-style building, and is WeWork's flagship in Shanghai. [Photo/Xinhua]

Global creator community giant WeWork Wednesday officially launched its startup services platform WeWork Labs in China in its bid to expand presence in the burgeoning innovation and entrepreneurship market.

The platform started to pilot the program in China's economic hub Shanghai in 2018, with three locations now serving 46 Labs members.

The official launch came with WeWork Labs' tie-up with Tsinghua University, Peking University and Aliyun to develop exchange programs, train business professionals and help Chinese firms expand at home and overseas.

Designed to empower early-stage startups, WeWork Labs has extended its footprint to 32 cities in 15 countries since 2011. Building on WeWork's global resources, the platform offers the community education, connections and mentorship to help entrepreneurs.

"We have seen many incubators but do not see us as one of them," Roee Adler, senior vice president and global head of WeWork Labs, told Xinhua in an interview.

Roee said WeWork seeks no equity and sets no time limits for startups' growth, aiming to build an innovation platform that creates an enabling ecosystem with tailor-made programs and services for its members.

As entrepreneurs, it is important to stay curious and learn to understand the nuances of different cultures, Roee said. "The more you understand people, the more you can empathize and the more you might end up with meaningful relationships."

China's innovation and entrepreneurship activities have accelerated since 2015 as the government sees them as drivers for the economy's transition. A string of supportive policies have been issued to support maker spaces, incubators and companies to speed up innovation.

Roee observed that the Chinese innovation and entrepreneurship market has "mind-blowing speed and scale," which, despite short-term fluctuations, has a growth trajectory in long-term perspective and might grow more than tenfold in the next decade.

"Chinese enterprises have advanced consumer-oriented thinking and strong manufacturing capabilities. China's speed of getting from an idea to a product is unparalleled," he said.

Dylan Huang, who oversees WeWork Labs' Greater China operations, said the demand among Chinese start-ups for all-round support is strong, and the platform is committed to win-win cooperation and will leverage its global resources to facilitate exchanges between Chinese partners and their overseas counterparts.

WeWork Labs helped Whitmoore, a U.S. start-up, seek partnership and opportunities in China last year via its Global Satellite Program and will organize a study trip to Israel for Tsinghua SEM X-elerator's postgraduates to learn about the country's start-up ecosystem this year.

WeWork Labs' interest covers agriculture, sustainability, food and other fields that can improve people's quality of life. Huang said it will work with local governments and partners in China to foster sectors with competitive advantages.

The platform plans to expand into Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and other cities with eight to 10 new locations expected this year, according to Huang.

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