GROWING DEMAND FOR SPACE
Part of the reason for the development of so many new, sizable startup hubs across Australia has been the rapid growth in the demand for startup accommodation. The expansion of established coworking spaces in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne has occured at the same time as WeWork, a global leader in coworking space, has entered the Australian market. In Sydney, WeWork has rapidly opened 10 new locations in and around Sydney’s CBD, in close proximity to the Sydney Startup Hub. Nevertheless, thanks to strong demand for ever more space of this kind, the Sydney Startup Hub has consistently had occupancy rates over 90%.
This trend can in part be attributed to a change in the way people are working across the economy as a whole. A global shift towards independent work and freelancing has driven up demand for convenient, small-scale office space. But with coworking seats in major Australian cities growing by thousands of places each year, freelancing can’t take all (or even most) of the credit.
Organisations like Stone & Chalk, which only accepts members building genuine startups, have grown swiftly. Stone & Chalk expanded dramatically into two dedicated floors of the Sydney Startup Hub in 2018, while at the same time boosting its presence in Melbourne and moving into Goods Shed North. In 2019 it expanded further, opening in Lot Fourteen in Adelaide. Fishburners, which also only accepts tech startups, doubled capacity in its Brisbane space at the Capital in 2018, while in the same year quadrupling the size of its Sydney presence as it moved into the Sydney Startup Hub.
Given the difficulty in collecting reliable, comprehensive data on startup formation rates, demand for coworking space is a reasonable proxy. On that metric, the system remains very healthy indeed.
South Australia has developed an ambitious, large-scale innovation precinct in Adelaide’s CBD, Lot Fourteen. Lot Fourteen is a large site primarily dedicated to fostering the growth of innovation and startups which has been progressively coming online since late 2018. It houses coworking spaces, scale-up offices, partnerships with national and multinational industrial firms, and dedicated R&D facilities. Australia’s national space agency is also headquartered at Lot Fourteen.
At over 23,500m2 Lot Fourteen is a significant addition to the national landscape, and has additional room to grow if demand warrants. The precinct is part of a concerted push by the South Australian government to develop sectoral strengths in high-value emerging technology areas.
In 2017 Paris opened one of the most ambitious startup hubs in the world - Station F.
Station F is in the 13th arrondissement, in the middle of Paris. It is built inside a former rail freight depot, which is where it gets its name. It is an enormous space - 34,000 m2, which has been converted into a workspace for up to 1,000 startups making it the biggest startup campus in the world. French President Emmanuel Macron formally opened the space in June 2017 as part of his vision of making France a world leader in technology.
Station F hosts 31 startup programs and corporate partners, including Facebook’s first startup incubator, Startup Garage. The program supports 15 data-driven startups on a six-month cycle.
Xavier Niel, a French billionaire who invested €250m into the project, was one of the primary drivers for the Station F project. In 2013 he set out to create an emblematic incubator to bring the French startup ecosystem together, similar to a university campus with various programs for startups, event spaces, and services.
‘Our goal with Station F is not only to create the largest startup campus in the world but also to create a space that houses an entire startup ecosystem under one roof,’ explains Station F Director Roxanne Varza. ‘It’s a truly ambitious project that puts France and Europe at the forefront of the international startup map.’
Station F also wants to make entrepreneurship more accessible, with more international representation, female founders, and access to necessary resources for those from underprivileged backgrounds. In the Station F Founders Program, 40% of startups are female-founded. Successes include Euveka, a startup on Station F’s luxury tech program run with LVMH. Founder Audrey- Laure Bergenthal builds connected robot mannequins that alter size to help design clothes. Station F has also launched the Fighters Program for entrepreneurs from underprivileged backgrounds. The program offers access to the same resources as a standard Founders Program, but free for a year.
Contributing to the campus atmosphere, Station F is taking a dive into residential accommodation. A 10-minute bike ride away from the ‘main campus,’ the co-living space will house 600 entrepreneurs who want to live and work together. In the future, Station F hopes to open a five-star hotel and youth hostel to continue expanding the ecosystem’s accessibility to international profiles.