Co-working space to ease Singapore SMEs into China

SMALL and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore will soon find it easier to break into China.

International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), CapitaLand and UrWork signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday to facilitate this amid the growing trend of the sharing economy.

This tripartite agreement, the first-of-its-kind among a trade agency, Asia’s largest real estate company headquartered and listed in Singapore and China’s leading co-working space operator, promised to smoothen the market entry process for SMEs.

It will provide a conducive work environment, leads and business advisory services.

With this partnership, CapitaLand will work with UrWork to provide co-working spaces in its properties here and in China, while IE Singapore will identify and link potential local SMEs to these spaces in China.

For a start, UrWork will open co-working spaces in two of the 65 CapitaLand malls in China in the next six months.

The first, with a space of 4,100 square metres, will open in phases at CapitaMall Minzhong-leyuan in Wuhan from January.

Following that, the 1,300 square metre space in CapitaMall Wangjing in Beijing will open in the first half of next year.

A co-working space is an escape from compliance with work norms in a corporate office, the isolation of plugging away at home alone, or the din in a coffee joint which may not be conducive to meeting clients.

It is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity, but unlike in a typical office environment, those co-working are usually not employed by the same organisation.

Renting a spot in a co-working office space has proven a popular option for startups in China, as it allows greater access to facilities while saving costs and has the added advantage of networking for like-minded young entrepreneurs.

“It’s like an extension of the university campus where the young are used to walking over and exchanging ideas with one another,” said Mao Daqing, the founder of UrWork.

Launched only in 2015, UrWork is the largest co-working space brand in China, with 36 co-working spaces in 11 cities, and growing.

It is home to many digital disrupters and innovative companies with novel business models.

“Singapore offers a favourable business environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, while China has a massive market for thriving innovative activities.

“Through this tripartite MOU, Singapore startups will gain access into China and China’s startups will have an international platform to grow their businesses,” Mr Mao said.

The MOU was signed on Friday by the assistant chief executive officer (CEO) of IE Singapore, Yew Sung Pei; CEO of CapitaLand Chia, Lucas Loh; and the chief financial officer of UrWork, Brian Liu Yan.

Listing the benefits the cooperation brings to Singapore companies, president and group CEO of CapitaLand, Lim Ming Yan, said they can tap UrWork’s vast networks and resources, with IE Singapore providing the support to accelerate growth in the China.

And first-timers to China “can outsource market entry feasibility studies, business registration processes, HR management, accounting to a suite of shared services providers listed on UrWork platform” while they concentrate on developing their businesses.

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