Express News Service
KOCHI: A model that targeted freelancers and part-time professionals, the co-working industry has, in the recent years, heralded an innovative work ethic. Sought after for its zero-capital-investment advantage coupled with state-of-the-art workspace facilities, the industry is expected to accommodate 13 million working Indians by the end of this year.
Even as tier 1 metros like Mumbai, Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru account for half of the leasing, recent trends show a surge of activity in tier 2 cities with Kochi breaking new ground with pan-Indian players like Awfis all set to launch a facility in the city this year.
“So far, the industry in Kochi has only seen local companies operating co-working spaces but that is soon expected to change with bigger players being drawn to the city. This would disrupt the sector altogether and is expected to shift competitive dynamics,” says Joe Alapatt, director of Centre A, one of the oldest facilities in the city housing close to 90 companies.
“Co-working is primarily a plug-and-play concept where companies can use pre-existing and developed office space. Many MNCs looking to set up operations in Kochi are opting for co-working spaces. This is apart from the 50 or so startups already functioning this way. The demand for IT space has grown exponentially in the city, so the entry of private players setting up co-working spaces is a welcome development. At least 12 more spaces are expected to be launched in the next three years,” says Ashok Kurian Panjikaran, manager, business linkages and incubation, Kerala Startup Mission.
The recently launched Innerspace Coworking in Kaloor with a capacity of 100 desk spaces is a case in point. “More than 10 per cent of our space was already booked even before our launch,” says Sunil P Stanly, co-founder, Innerspace. Another flexible workspace player, InQ Innovations, is also ready to expand its facility by 75 desk spaces in the coming month. “The rate of growth of co-working in tier 2 cities like Kochi is higher compared to tier 1 metros. We are averaging close to 70 per cent operational capacity every month,” says Goldy Geroge, community manager at InQ. At the precipice of a major explosion, co-working companies in Kochi have registered an interesting trend. While Innerspace claims that a majority of their customers are established companies, Centre A also concurs.
“One important characteristic that has evolved over the last couple of years is that more MNCs and SMEs are availing co-working spaces in Kochi as compared to startups. This is because a greater number of companies are setting up their operations in the state and Kochi as the business capital is an ideal location. Almost 70 per cent of our clientele are corporates. I think Kochi is leading among tier 2 cities in terms of co-working spaces,” says Joe.
While Kerala boasts of 40 incubators and co-working spaces across the state, Kochi has close to 15 co-working hubs with some also providing incubation and acceleration services. Although the Integrated Startup Complex (ISC) by Kerala Startup Mission (KUSM) at Kalamassery houses a co-working space along with three incubation centres, a majority of hubs in the city are privately run. Of the total 160 startups operating out of ISC, around 10 to 15 are utilising the co-working services. “We are also providing a scale-up space for nurtured startups which are looking to expand,” says Ashok.
15 co-working hubs in Kochi
Recent trends show a surge of activity in tier 2 cities with Kochi breaking new ground with pan-Indian players like Awfis all set to launch a facility in the city this year
While Kerala boasts of 40 incubators and co-working spaces across the state, Kochi has close to 15 co-working hubs with some also providing incubation and acceleration services
The Integrated Startup Complex by Kerala Startup Mission at Kalamassery houses a co-working space along with three incubation centres
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