NEW YORK — WeWork Food Labs will open this year and support growing start-up companies by bringing together entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors.
“How we approach food and sustainability today will have an impact on us for generations to come, and as a global community, we are uniquely positioned to drive real change in this industry,” said Roee Adler, global head of WeWork Labs. “WeWork Food Labs will empower innovators across the food and agricultural space, giving them the tools and resources they need to create sustainable solutions that address challenges both within our own community and on a global scale.”
Programming will begin this spring. A space opening in New York City in late 2019 will provide members with custom research and development space, a private dining room, a merchandising area and indoor-outdoor space. A work space will include desks, private offices, conference rooms, phone booths, a photo studio and a podcast studio.
WeWork Food Labs will operate two simultaneous tracks designed for the unique needs of each start-up. A general food labs program will be accessible through a paid membership. A food labs accelerator will follow a traditional accelerator model. WeWork will seed $1 million in equity investments in the first accelerator model.
The community will include start-ups, policy makers, university partners and venture capitalists. Unovis Partners, a global investment firm focused on companies developing replacements for animal protein products, is involved. New Crop Capital, the venture capitalist fund of Unovis Partners, will join the space and review start-ups in the WeWork Food Labs for potential investments.
With growing greenhouse gas emission rates, a rising global population and environmental concerns around food waste, the food industry is ripe for innovation, according to The We Company, which offers the WeWork Labs platforms.
“In a way, building a food start-up is much more difficult than building start-ups in other areas,” Mr. Adler said. “Facilities can be expensive, equipment is required (and) procurement of customer pipelines can be difficult.”
WeWork Labs already is helping over 1,000 start-up companies and is in 49 locations covering 32 cities and 15 countries. Another WeWork Labs platform seeks to assist new mining advances in Brazil.