WeWork to Launch Food Innovation Lab
WeWork—the company known for operating shared workspaces—has had a busy year. Back in September, the company banned meat from its office menu for environmental reasons, and told employees they could no longer expense meat-based meals; in January, the company announced a rebranding as the We Company, with three business units (WeWork, WeLive, and WeGrow). Up next? WeWork Food Labs (run by WeWork Labs), a concept dedicated to “powering the future of food,” according to a statement. The concept was announced today, reports Eater, and the space is expected to open later this year in Chelsea.
“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,” Roee Adler, global head of WeWork Labs, said in a statement. “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.”
Just like WeWork’s other projects, this will be a coworking place—which includes a custom R&D space, a merchandising area, a food pantry, dedicated workspace, outdoor event space, and more. There’s no commercial kitchen, but if members need access, WeWork can help them get discounted access to one, according to Eater. As for who would populate the food lab? Exactly what you would expect at an innovation lab: entrepreneurs, startups, software developers, industry experts, investors, and more. The company hopes that the space will be used to address the biggest challenges facing food—and to help out, it will seed $1 million in equity investments in the first Food Labs accelerator cohort, according to a statement, which will be the company’s arm for investing in “early age food startups.”
To participate in the Food Labs program, there are two tracks: membership, or the accelerator. You need to pay for membership, which starts at $300 a month, per the WeWork site. It gives you access to the aforementioned R&D Kitchen, pantry, merchandising showcase, and other on-site amenities, as well as pitch competitions, demo days, weekly workshops and events, a dedicated labs manager, industry partners and resources, and distribution opportunities. Or, if you want to join the first installation of accelerator program—which, again, is for early age startups and is more short term/focused than membership—applications are open now, and due May 15. The accelerator follows a five-month curriculum and starts in October. Interested? You can apply here.