We've noticed that a growing number of coworking facilities are starting to look and act like mini-industrial clusters.
Industrial clusters are geographic concentrations of firms that broadly serve the same industry and have common needs for talent, technology and business infrastructure. Firms within a cluster may be competitive or cooperative and are often reliant on other firms in the cluster as suppliers and/or customers.
Some of the best known large U.S. clusters include Silicon Valley (technology), Hollywood (entertainment), Napa Valley (wine) and Detroit (autos).
Industrial clusters are successful because of the economic advantages that come from a tight network of customers, suppliers and cluster-related talent.
We're seeing a similar effect going on with coworking. Coworking facilities are not just workspaces. They are enabling infrastructure where connections are made, networks established and new business ideas, approaches and even companies are built.
The same mix of skills, capabilities, expertise and talent that provides an industrial cluster a competitive advantage exists - on a much smaller scale - in coworking facilities. And in many cases members of these facilities are starting to benefit from the power of this concentration of skilled and talented people.
Some examples of coworking facilities that look and/or act like mini-industrial clusters include:
The Hub SF: This coworking facility focused on social entrepreneurship. Many of the members are non-profits, but it also has for profit members with specialized expertise in social entrepreneurship including lawyers, accountants, marketing specialists and others.
The Hub SF also has a large number of members who are independent contractors with an interest and/or experience working with non-profits and social entrepreneurs.
This broad set of non-profit firms and talent provide a strong collective business network, make it easy to find and hire talent and tap the expertise required to build or start a socially oriented firm.
i/o LA: I haven't been there but it's being described as an incubator and coworking facility focused on bridging the technology and entertainment industries. It's located in Hollywood and has a number of Hollywood insiders involved. I love this quote from one of i/o's founders in the Hollywood Reporter:
"It is all about the convergence of tech and entertainment and aligning storytellers with technologists," said Leitch, the son of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Donovan.
Only in Hollywood would they mention the guy's dad is Donovan.
1871: The large Chicago coworking space is attempting to turn Chicago into a tech mecca. I really like the way they describe themselves. It's very cluster sounding:
"Chicago’s brightest digital designers, engineers and entrepreneurs are shaping new technologies, disrupting old business models, and resetting the boundaries of what’s possible ... Come to a place where you can share ideas, make mistakes, work hard, build your business and, with a little luck, change the world."
pariSoma: This SF coworking space's tagline is where ideas meet execution. Their members are almost all technology startups (they have very few freelancers or firms that aren't tech startups) and they provide extensive startup training and education programs. They are a mini tech startup cluster located within the larger SF/Silicon Valley technology cluster.
We can provide other examples, but you get the point.
We're not suggesting that all coworking facilities are becoming mini-clusters. Most aren't. But the trend towards cluster-like vertically oriented coworking spaces is clear and we expect to see their numbers grow.
We're excited by this trend. It shows coworking continues to grow up and add value to members.