AI Businesses Invade World’s Coworking Spaces

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The Creative Hallway in Mindspace’s new Whitechapel space in London. The new coworking space is home to AI startup StatusToday, among others.
  • European coworking provider Mindspace has reported a number of AI businesses moving into its spaces.
  • Both large corporations and startups are using flexible spaces to collaborate and innovate.
  • Mindspace predicts this trend will “grow exponentially”.

In the last few months, European coworking provider Mindspace has reported a number of Artificial Intelligence (AI) businesses moving into its spaces.

This influx includes SMEs, startups and some of the world’s leading e-commerce companies and conglomerates. For example, Booking.com and Siemens have recently moved their AI departments into Mindspace locations around the world, alongside startups such as Artificial Labs and StatusToday.

According to Mindspace, 70 workstations have been assigned in the last three months alone to the AI functions of these businesses, and Mindspace expects this trend to grow exponentially.

Oded Israeli, VP marketing at Mindspace, said: “Large enterprises are increasingly obtaining private offices, alongside startups, at Mindspace for their innovation ventures. Rather than working in the conventional setting of a company’s headquarters, teams opt for a more flexible and agile manner of working — tapping into diverse sources of creativity and connecting with other ambitious companies and individuals.”

“For successful enterprises like Booking.com and Siemens, coworking spaces such as Mindspace are the future-ready alternative to the traditional office,” he added.

Booking.com recently set up its AI Development Centre in Tel Aviv. Speaking in a statement,  Steven Morrison, senior product owner at Booking.com, said: “At this new dedicated research and learning space, we plan to tap into the region’s deep pool of talent to explore how machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as other new and emerging technologies can fuel future innovations in travel. So, having the right set-up that inspires imagination and experimentation is key.”

Siemens has also placed two AI innovation teams at Mindspace in Munich to foster faster innovation and attract the best talent to these teams. “There are additional big brands engaging in AI at Mindspace but we are not at liberty to disclose their names at the moment,” Israeli added.

The Benefits of Coworking

While large corporations can open their doors to true innovation, new businesses benefit from the industry knowledge and experience of established business partners. Israeli said: “For big businesses, moving their AI department into coworking can allow them to innovate just as fast as startups, help stimulate ideas and think more creatively than in an HQ or traditional environment. It can also give big businesses their ‘cool’ factor, helping to attract highly-skilled millennials to join them.

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“Concurrently, startups are inspired to work with greater speed, thrill and creativity. They can also leverage enterprises as a go-to market channel to validate their solutions and test it at large scale.”

“Their joint goal is to meet one another — and Mindspace houses a fine mix of companies of all sizes to explore the many opportunities available. It’s this network of big and small companies under the same roof that creates the magic,” Israeli added.

The development of AI-based businesses holds certain similarities with the development of the Fintech demographic. Just as innovative Fintech startups are disrupting traditional banks before, inevitably, being bought by said big banks eager to foster innovation, AI-based businesses could be following a similar path — and coworking spaces are providing the right environment for such partnerships between the old and the new to form.

“New AI technology and products may be attractive for acquisition to large companies who are looking for complementary solutions or inorganic growth,” according to Israeli.

Founded in 2014, Mindspace currently operates 16 coworking spaces across Europe and Israel, catering for more than 2,000 companies globally. It recently launched its first space in London (where AI startup StatusToday has set up shop in Whitechapel) and announced plans to expand into the US.

We’re not just seeing the rise of AI within Mindspace’s walls either — an AI-dedicated coworking spot opened its doors last year, for example.
This surge in AI-focused businesses in coworking spaces is indicative of the wider changes we’re seeing in the way we work and the way we interact with one another. The dominance and demand for AI-enabled technologies is also a trend that’s unlikely to slow as we enter 2018. As such, coworking spaces should expect more artificial intelligence businesses and departments to enter their world, eager to foster innovation and collaboration.