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China’s flourishing entrepreneurship boost co-working space industry

By Jiang Jie (People's Daily Online)    10:09, November 13, 2017

With the world’s largest population, China has always struggled when it comes to space, from space for rice growing to space for building rockets.

This has made the co-working space industry popular across China, a nation that sees about 15,000 new companies sprout every day.

In response, the industry is growing at an annual rate of 30 percent and by 2030 some 30 percent of the working spaces in China will be shared. In two years, co-working space is estimated to reach 51 million square meters in China, Qu Xianyang, a vice-chairman at the China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce who oversees the industry, predicted at a forum on November 3 in Shenzhen, Guangdong.

Qu added China’s co-working space industry will embrace its peak in five years, China Business Journal reported.

File photo

Data from the Ministry of Science and Technology shows that China recorded a total of 7,953 co-working space companies and incubators between 1987 and 2016, topping the world in terms of numbers, amid consistent government encouragement for innovative entrepreneurship.

The trend is popular not only in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, but equally popular in smaller cities. The city government of Huizhou – which neighbors Shenzhen – vows to set up 36 city-level co-working space companies by 2020, together with 36 incubators to support high-tech startups in the city. The authorities even pledged up to 1 million yuan as compensation to reboot failed investment in such projects, according to Nandu Daily.

The heating Chinese market naturally attracts international players as well.

For example, WeWork, the US-based pioneer in co-working space industry, has marveled at the growth of the industry in China. Merely 16 months after it entered the Chinese market, a total of 13 locations have been set up or planned. Eleven months since opening its first location, it welcomed the first company with more than 1,000 employees, while WeWork locations in the US had to wait five years for its first “big client.” Many WeWork locations in China are also reported to fill up in less than a month after opening. The Wangjing location in Beijing saw 1,500 company registrations on the first day of its opening, setting a record in the WeWork global community in 18 countries and regions.

(A WeWork location in Shanghai. Photo courtesy of WeWork)

The high occupancy and expansion speed comes under the powerful development momentum of companies, including foreign ones seeking their way into China.

The world’s most awarded and biggest digital production company, MediaMonks, opened its first branch in China last year with a team of six people at a WeWork location Shanghai as the first step of the company’s exploration in China, according to a spokesperson from the Shanghai branch.

Internet electric car company XPeng Motors, with 150 employees, is readying itself for a bigger team of up to 500 employees and a bigger working space of about 2,500 square meters to further work on its self-driving technology that has already accomplished autonomous parallel parking, revealed Zhang Jinjin, a vice president of the company.

“We have already established an R&D center in Silicon Valley. We naturally want to enter the global market. We have strong willingness and a clear blueprint to achieve our goal,” Zhang told People’s Daily Online.

Alan Ai, WeWork Greater China General Manager, told People’s Daily Online that more locations will soon be open in China, such as in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Chengdu where economy and urbanization develop rapidly with flourishing company activities.

“This is an opportune time to launch the next phase of WeWork China. We will continue to provide a global platform for more China creators to grow, innovate and go global via our new products, services, experiences and the power of our community worldwide,” said Christian Lee, WeWork Asia Managing Director, adding that more efforts would be made to further humanize the way people live and work and connect more people in real life.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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