US shared offices company WeWork will almost double its space in London this year, as it launches a £1.2m award scheme to back UK start-ups.
Speaking ahead of today’s launch of the European part of the awards, founder Adam Neumann defended the pace of expansion of the New York-based business, insisting there was still high demand from both large and small companies.
WeWork is launching an award scheme for companies at three stages: those in “incubation” stage with a specific project needing research and development funding; those wanting to launch an existing business; and companies who want to scale up their activities.
They 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 later this year.
The firm is awarding £16m globally, of which £1.2m will be allocated to UK businesses, and winners will receive prizes of between £36,000 and £360,000. The first event in Washington DC at the end of last month attracted more than 1,000 applicants.
“We’re aware that sometimes the thing we’re passionate about is not always the thing we can make the most money out of,” Mr Neumann said, adding that he was keen to target firms run by people from a diverse range of backgrounds.