DURHAM – When it comes to startups and fostering innovation in the Bull City, it appears that WeWork wants a slice of the action.
Enter WeWork Labs, the company’s innovation arm supporting early-stage startups through their journey – from ideation to post-accelerator.
Today, the global co-working company announced that it plans to open its first location in the Bull City, adding to its some 60 spaces across the globe since the program’s launch early last year.
The space will be co-located within WeWork Durham.ID (short for Innovation District), which recently opened for business last week, offering the capacity to house up to 40 startups.
By the firm’s estimates, there are 300-plus startups in the surrounding area, many still searching for support and venture capital.
WeWork said it believes Labs could be the answer to that “underserved market segment.”
WeWork Labs is for-pay, with prices for incoming Labs members starting at around $375. To be clear, WeWork will not take equity in member companies.
“WeWork Labs has no time limit and we don’t filter startups who wish to join,” a WeWork spokesperson explained to WRAL TechWire. “We see Labs as a founder-focused program and understand that some ideas take longer than others. We are committed to supporting the success of the entrepreneur.”
As part of the deal, startups will be given access to the benefits of a full WeWork membership, as well as programming and mentorship connections – “from Durham to London.”
The program also plans to leverage its existing partnerships, both near and afar. Among them include Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, which the firm has been partnered with on several projects over the last year, and organizations like Techstars, which runs more than 45 accelerator programs around the globe.
“Through WeWork Labs, we will be able to take this support of Durham’s Startup ecosystem to the next level,” said Bobby Condon, WeWork’s general manager for the Southeast.
Durham mayor Steve Schewel voiced his support.
“As a global platform for innovation, WeWork Labs will provide early-stage startups, accelerators, incubators and larger corporations in Durham with the curriculum and resources they need to succeed,” he said. “By cultivating public-private partnerships toward shared economic prosperity, programs like WeWork Labs will help to empower the next generation of innovation and a talented, competitive workforce in Durham.”