US firm launches fund for UK start-ups

US shared offices firm WeWork will almost double its space in London this year, as it launches a £1.2m award scheme to back new research, start-ups and scale-ups in the UK.

The global workspace is launching an award scheme for businesses at three stages in their lifecycle; there will be a prize for those in the incubation stage that need funds for research and development, then another for those launching an existing business, while further funding will be available for businesses that want to scale up.

Interested parties will be asked to pitch to a panel of judges at an event in London in September before moving on to global finals in New York before the end of the year. Winners will receive prices of between £36,000 and £360,000, as well as desk space. In addition, all applicants will receive desk space in WeWork’s facilities for two days per month for a year.

As a spokesman for the organisation pointed out, it is not always the things people are most passionate about that make them the most money, adding that he was keen to target businesses run by people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

At the moment, WeWork has 12 offices in London, which will rise to 20 by the end of the year. In addition, the business is in talks to open its first UK office outside the capital. The business offers members desk space or private offices in its workspaces in return for a monthly fee.

According to WeWork, this way of working is a better option for many firms, particularly at the moment when the uncertainty around Brexit means that they would prefer to work in a flexible space than put their balance sheet behind renting a whole office.

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