WeWork Labs and Alibaba Cloud join hands to give startups a push

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Roee Adler, global head of WeWork Labs (Image credit: WeWork)

The China unit of WeWork’s accelerator-type program WeWork Labs and Alibaba’s cloud computing arm Alibaba Cloud have inked a partnership to support entrepreneurs grow their businesses both in Greater China and overseas.

Under the new arrangement, the two parties will introduce eight co-branded labs spaces across the country in 2019 in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen.

Li Zhongyu, manager of Alibaba Cloud Innovation Incubation Department said Alibaba Cloud will provide technology and entrepreneurial support to WeWork Labs across e-commerce, fintech, logistics, healthcare, entertainment, and more.

The companies said they aim to help 20 foreign startups to enter China, and assist 30 Chinese companies to expand overseas.

“We believe Alibaba and WeWork have different parts of the puzzle and we can complete a wider picture of entrepreneurship,” said Roee Adler, global head of WeWork Labs.

The US community and space operator also announced the official rollout of WeWork Labs in Greater China, around one year after a pilot period that started in June last year.

WeWork Labs, which launched internationally in 2018, is an accelerator-type program under the WeWork umbrella. The program now has over 50 locations in 32 cities and 15 countries around the globe.

WeWork Labs Greater China now has three physical spaces in Shanghai and plans to expand to around 10 cities in the country this year, according to Dylan Huang, the head of the company for Greater China.

Alibaba is no stranger to accelerator-type programs. Heeding the Chinese government’s call for advancement, creation, and promotion of entrepreneurship that was launched in 2015, Alibaba has opened 54 innovation centers, Alibaba’s Li said.

“We have incubated around 18,000 projects and these projects have received a combined RMB 20 billion (around $2.9 billion),” he added.

WeWork Labs’ Adler, who is himself a serial entrepreneur, said that the customer-focused mindset and mass manufacturing capabilities are two major advantages that could help Chinese startups outrun their global rivals.

Another advantage is the low cost of manufacturing in China, he added. “The infrastructure and platforms have been built in the country, allowing certain kinds of ideas to move a lot faster than other places in the world,” Adler said.