Melbourne Is The Latest APAC Battleground For Co-Working Giants

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Melbourne is the new, must-have, destination for global co-working giants, with both WeWork and RocketSpace opening their doors in the central business district over the coming months.

Add to this the recent, unexpected announcement of the Jiangsu-Victoria Innovation Centre: A $64m project – backed by Suzhou High-Tech Venture Capital Group – that is a partnership between Jiangsu-Suzhou Science and Technology Town, RMIT University, the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Government, Australia China Association of Scientists and Entrepreneurs (ACASE), and the City of Melbourne.

Clash of the Titans 

There will now be a race to see who will fill the floors in their multi-million dollar local investments. This is, of course, wonderful news for local startups, as the entire ecosystem gets a makeover (quite literally). The money entrepreneurs were once paying in rent can now give them a superior solution, with amenities that make Google employees jealous.

The only losers, unfortunately, are smaller co-working spaces. Unless well-positioned or suitably niched (i.e. focused on a given vertical; Corporate Innovation, Fintech, Hardware), they will struggle to compete with the polished infrastructure and local fanfare of the international superstars joining the ranks.

WeWork and RocketSpace are the hottest clubs in town, and they come with the history of billion-dollar residents and multi-billion dollar raises. RocketSpace is famous for harbouring the likes of Spotify and Uber in their early days, and WeWork confirmed a massive $4.4 billion investment from SoftBank and its Vision Fund last month.

DigitalAgenda

RocketSpace London

Why Melbourne?

According to the Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Arron Wood, “startups are being drawn to Melbourne’s small business culture [thanks to] the availability of flexible office space, with Melbourne’s CBD now recognised as the co-working capital of Australia.” On top of this “Melbourne was crowned the world’s Intelligent Community of the Year, in recognition of our wide ranging innovative technology, education, sustainability and community programs.”

RocketSpace CEO Duncan Logan is betting that “with its burgeoning startup culture, its status as one of the world’s top ‘liveable cities’ and its proximity to Asia, Melbourne is an insanely obvious place for RocketSpace to be.”

WeWork Vs. Rocketspace

Logan believes that what sets RocketSpace apart is their "global network of corporates and startups". He says that his company is "providing membership to an ecosystem that is engineered to help the greatest ideas have the greatest chance of success. We help startups scale up and we help traditional corporations transform into digital conglomerates” adding that “unlike co-working spaces, we are not a real estate company; we’re a platform for growth, a space that helps startups attract top talent and that’s built for high-performance teams where every single detail is designed to reduce friction”.

In comparison, WeWork is certainly on a more experiential path, and while it is surely a major player in the real-estate game, do not let that deter you from the beautiful, shared office spaces it provides, and a mission that is clearly driven with a community focus.

More on Forbes: WeWork Will Need More Than Funding To Take On Asian Rival Naked Hub

WeWork

WeWork’s ‘Do What You Love’ campaign aims to ‘showcase the entrepreneurs behind startups and emerging companies.’

Helping Melbourne’s startups expand

With these developments in place, what does Melbourne’s future look like? Deputy Lord Mayor Wood says “[we] currently support or deliver more than 50 services that Melbourne’s startups can access. Earlier this year we launched a new four year Startup Action Plan which sets out how we will help startups create their business and expand. Key actions in the plan include: helping startups connect with industry; using our international connections to help startups go global; and continuing to fund startups through the City of Melbourne’s small business grants.”

“Our involvement in the Jiangsu-Victoria Innovation Centre is also giving Melbourne based startups the chance to share in $80 million in financial support and connect their ideas with the world.”

So, can Melbourne be the innovation hub of Asia-Pacific?

Wood believes it can. “Melbourne can be a key business innovation hub for Asia. The City of Melbourne is already home to 35,000 international students, with around 85 per cent from Asia. Our city is home to people from more than 200 countries who speak 260 languages and practise more than 135 faiths. We’ve always celebrated this diversity as a key strength and sought to establish and strengthen our international business relationships.

Chris Joannou

401 Collins St, the site of an upcoming WeWork space in Melbourne.

“International collaboration is key to Melbourne’s strong biotech, clean tech, education and medical sectors. As a city we’re now more focused than ever on the startup and knowledge sectors,” he adds.

The combination of global interest, a supportive local government, and the fact that Melbourne is almost equidistant from China and Silicon Valley makes it not only the world’s most liveable city (according to a recent study by The Economist); but also a real contender for a global innovation hub as tech brings east and west closer together.

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Shutterstock

Melbourne is the new, must-have, destination for global co-working giants, with both WeWork and RocketSpace opening their doors in the central business district over the coming months.

Add to this the recent, unexpected announcement of the Jiangsu-Victoria Innovation Centre: A $64m project – backed by Suzhou High-Tech Venture Capital Group – that is a partnership between Jiangsu-Suzhou Science and Technology Town, RMIT University, the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Government, Australia China Association of Scientists and Entrepreneurs (ACASE), and the City of Melbourne.

Clash of the Titans 

There will now be a race to see who will fill the floors in their multi-million dollar local investments. This is, of course, wonderful news for local startups, as the entire ecosystem gets a makeover (quite literally). The money entrepreneurs were once paying in rent can now give them a superior solution, with amenities that make Google employees jealous.

The only losers, unfortunately, are smaller co-working spaces. Unless well-positioned or suitably niched (i.e. focused on a given vertical; Corporate Innovation, Fintech, Hardware), they will struggle to compete with the polished infrastructure and local fanfare of the international superstars joining the ranks.

WeWork and RocketSpace are the hottest clubs in town, and they come with the history of billion-dollar residents and multi-billion dollar raises. RocketSpace is famous for harbouring the likes of Spotify and Uber in their early days, and WeWork confirmed a massive $4.4 billion investment from SoftBank and its Vision Fund last month.

DigitalAgenda

RocketSpace London

Why Melbourne?

According to the Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Arron Wood, “startups are being drawn to Melbourne’s small business culture [thanks to] the availability of flexible office space, with Melbourne’s CBD now recognised as the co-working capital of Australia.” On top of this “Melbourne was crowned the world’s Intelligent Community of the Year, in recognition of our wide ranging innovative technology, education, sustainability and community programs.”

RocketSpace CEO Duncan Logan is betting that “with its burgeoning startup culture, its status as one of the world’s top ‘liveable cities’ and its proximity to Asia, Melbourne is an insanely obvious place for RocketSpace to be.”

WeWork Vs. Rocketspace

Logan believes that what sets RocketSpace apart is their “global network of corporates and startups”. He says that his company is “providing membership to an ecosystem that is engineered to help the greatest ideas have the greatest chance of success. We help startups scale up and we help traditional corporations transform into digital conglomerates” adding that “unlike co-working spaces, we are not a real estate company; we’re a platform for growth, a space that helps startups attract top talent and that’s built for high-performance teams where every single detail is designed to reduce friction”.

In comparison, WeWork is certainly on a more experiential path, and while it is surely a major player in the real-estate game, do not let that deter you from the beautiful, shared office spaces it provides, and a mission that is clearly driven with a community focus.

More on Forbes: WeWork Will Need More Than Funding To Take On Asian Rival Naked Hub

WeWork

WeWork’s ‘Do What You Love’ campaign aims to ‘showcase the entrepreneurs behind startups and emerging companies.’

Helping Melbourne’s startups expand

With these developments in place, what does Melbourne’s future look like? Deputy Lord Mayor Wood says “[we] currently support or deliver more than 50 services that Melbourne’s startups can access. Earlier this year we launched a new four year Startup Action Plan which sets out how we will help startups create their business and expand. Key actions in the plan include: helping startups connect with industry; using our international connections to help startups go global; and continuing to fund startups through the City of Melbourne’s small business grants.”

“Our involvement in the Jiangsu-Victoria Innovation Centre is also giving Melbourne based startups the chance to share in $80 million in financial support and connect their ideas with the world.”

So, can Melbourne be the innovation hub of Asia-Pacific?

Wood believes it can. “Melbourne can be a key business innovation hub for Asia. The City of Melbourne is already home to 35,000 international students, with around 85 per cent from Asia. Our city is home to people from more than 200 countries who speak 260 languages and practise more than 135 faiths. We’ve always celebrated this diversity as a key strength and sought to establish and strengthen our international business relationships.

Chris Joannou

401 Collins St, the site of an upcoming WeWork space in Melbourne.

“International collaboration is key to Melbourne’s strong biotech, clean tech, education and medical sectors. As a city we’re now more focused than ever on the startup and knowledge sectors,” he adds.

The combination of global interest, a supportive local government, and the fact that Melbourne is almost equidistant from China and Silicon Valley makes it not only the world’s most liveable city (according to a recent study by The Economist); but also a real contender for a global innovation hub as tech brings east and west closer together.

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