It is an exciting news that as soon as the first half of 2018, about 90,000 square feet of shared working space will be available to young entrepreneurs, start-ups and artists to rent at a low price in Hong Kong, the world’s most expensive place to stay.
Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Chief Secretary for Administration, unveiled the timeline in his blog on December 4 and said that the 10 landlords will participate in the first phase of the government’s the “Space sharing scheme for youth” and the second phase is expected to be launched between 2018 and 2019.
The initiative, first introduced in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s Policy Address in October, is aimed at helping solve one of the most significant obstacles that young start-ups face in the city.
“To the youngsters, youth start-ups, the problem they are facing now is getting the right place at the right rental. It’s not easy, really. They can’t even afford the rental. So this scheme will certainly provide a much-needed platform for them: affordable rental, convenient locations and not just hardware,” said Cheung earlier in October, meeting the media.
According to the scheme, rent charged for operators by the landlords cannot exceed 30 percent of the market rate, while the rental paid by users should be capped at 50 percent of the market rate.
And the participating landlords must offer the space for at least six years. They can operate it themselves or outsource it to a third party.
The government said the idea is also to provide a platform for the young entrepreneurs to meet with other people and seek interaction and collaboration.
“They work in a place where they can mix with other people, providing interdisciplinary support and also widening their social network – their contacts, basically. So if you have the chance to go to a co-working space you will find that various disciplines are based there, so that they can easily network with other people in a particular sector, enhancing their understanding of the sector and strengthening their social network, which is one thing is very important for young start-ups in Hong Kong,” said Cheung.
Van Kowk, a 31-year-old freelance interior designer, welcomed the idea, and said, “my current rent for a desk in a sharing office in an old building in Central is 20,000 per month. It is really a huge burden on me. The discounted rate will be an encouragement.”
Yet, Kowk has not decided whether he will hand in the application and his main concern is the location.
“Many of my clients are based in Central and it might cause more to travel,” said the designer.
Most of the buildings, mainly refurbished factory buildings, are in Tsuen Wan, Lai Chi Kok, Wong Chuk Hang, Wan Chai and Kwun Tong.
The 10 building owners include some of the city’s biggest developers, such as Sun Hung Kai Properties, Sino Group and Emperor Group, local entertainment conglomerate.
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