A rendering of the WeWork Food Labs space. Image courtesy of WeWork.
Coworking, office space leasing (and everything else) company WeWork has launched its second “innovation lab.” WeWork Food Labs intends to nurture early-stage startups focused on the future of food. Food Labs will offer dedicated space, community, and programming to entrepreneurs who are tackling challenges in food-related industries from hospitality, consumer goods and kitchen appliances to supply chain management, agricultural technology, distribution software, robotics and more, all of which are apparently very much in need of innovation. A flagship New York City location will open in late 2019 at 511 West 25th Street adjacent to the High Line in West Chelsea.
Roee Adler, global head of WeWork Labs, explained in an announcement on the company’s website that WeWork Food Labs further underscores the company’s commitment to sustainability and early-stage entrepreneurs: “Those ideas intersect at Food Labs. How we approach food and sustainability today will have an impact on us for generations to come.”
The We Company (as per a recent corporate rebranding) sees a unique opportunity to disrupt the space, despite the challenges the industry presents: Says Adler, “In a way, building a food startup is much more difficult than building startups in other areas. Facilities can be expensive, equipment is required, [and] procurement of customer pipelines can be difficult.”
The Chelsea location will provide members with a custom R&D space, pantry, private dining room, merchandising area, indoor-outdoor event space, dedicated desks, private offices, conference rooms, phone booths, a photo studio and a podcast studio. Members will also enjoy subsidized access to farm space, commercial kitchens and maker spaces.
Partner companies in this new venture include The Spoon and global investment firm Unovis Partners and its VC fund New Crop Capital. WeWork Food Labs is also creating an advisory board of policymakers, educators, chefs, and industry experts.
A general Food Labs program will be accessible via paid membership, and the Food Labs Accelerator will follow a traditional accelerator model which WeWork will seed with $1 million in equity investments. The accelerator program is accepting applications through May 15, 2019.
The We Company’s innovation labs will support early-stage startups in 49 locations across 32 global cities. The company’s first innovation lab is focused on new advances in mining in Brazil.
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Neighborhoods : Chelsea