Chinese co-working space operator opens second Singapore outlet

UrWork's first overseas branch in Ayer Rajah. The company is backed by Alibaba's Ant Financial and Sequoia Capital, among others.
UrWork's first overseas branch in Ayer Rajah. The company is backed by Alibaba's Ant Financial and Sequoia Capital, among others.ZB FILE PHOTO
UrWork's first overseas branch in Ayer Rajah. The company is backed by Alibaba's Ant Financial and Sequoia Capital, among others.
Mr Mao Daqing, founder and chief executive of Chinese co-working space operator UrWork.ZB FILE PHOTO

Prominent Chinese co-working space operator UrWork is opening a second Singapore location in the first quarter of next year.

The company, which is backed by Alibaba's Ant Financial and Sequoia Capital among others, launched its first overseas branch at Ayer Rajah Crescent in July.

Its new outlet will be at Suntec City and is part of the firm's efforts to become a bridge between South-east Asia and China, founder and chief executive Mao Daqing said.

Beijing-based UrWork, which has been billed as China's answer to Silicon Valley co-working giant WeWork, has been valued at about US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion).

It has 100 co-working sites in 33 Chinese cities and is the country's largest co-working space operator.

The company plans to expand globally into 35 cities with 160 locations over the next three years.

To stand out in the increasingly crowded co-working market, UrWork positions itself as a provider of key services to start-ups looking for global growth.

ADDED ADVANTAGE

As a Chinese home-grown company, we know the needs of Chinese entrepreneurs in China and overseas, laying a solid foundation for our fast-scaling and service integration.

MR MAO DAQING, founder and chief executive of Chinese co-working space operator UrWork.

It runs a series of acceleration programmes to help new firms scale, and has also developed a proprietary scheme partnering Chinese government agencies and service suppliers to help foreign start-ups enter the Chinese market.

Its second location in Singapore will span 1,300 sq m in Suntec City and will take in South-east Asian start-ups looking to expand into China, as well as Chinese firms keen on growing in the region.

UrWork also invested in Jakarta-based co-working space Rework earlier this year as part of its regional strategy.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding with trade agency IE Singapore and property giant CapitaLand last December to help Singapore firms break into the China market by offering co-working spaces as well as business advisory services.

South-east Asia has become a market with plenty of opportunities for investors in China "due to a strong supply of high-potential tech start-ups, big market volume, surging amount of freelancers, low operational cost and high rate of digital penetration", said Mr Mao.

"As a Chinese home-grown company, we know the needs of Chinese entrepreneurs in China and overseas, laying a solid foundation for our fast-scaling and service integration," he added.

Key sectors of interest for UrWork in Singapore and South-east Asia include artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and fintech, Mr Mao said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Chinese co-working space operator opens second Singapore outlet'. Print Edition | Subscribe