They are known in the business world as hubs for ideas, innovation and daring – and according to the author of a new book on “co-working” spaces, Bendigo has more of them than any other regional Victorian city.
Author Taylor Tran compiled a list of over 70 Victorian spaces offering new ways for people to work, share ideas and grow their businesses.
He said co-working and collaborative spaces were a bit different to run of the mill offices.
Some spaces were rented for a small fee on a daily basis. Others stayed until the day their businesses started making profits.
“The main reason why co-working spaces are different is that they offer support and opportunities to network and collaborate,” Mr Tran said.
He said central Victorians had access to more co-working spaces than anyone else in regional Victoria.
He said Bendigo boasted two – Workspaces and the Synergize Hub. Castlemaine had the Cohoots co-working space.
“If we also include the Morley Johnson initiative and the innovative Made in Common share-retail concept Central Victoria actually has five spaces.”
He said Geelong had two and Ballarat had one.
Inside a co-working space
Bendigo’s Brenton Johnson said there were about seven-and-a-half thousand local businesses, 85 per cent of whom employed less than five people.
“We don’t know how many of them are working from home. But we know many don’t have an office space,” he said.
Mr Johnson is vice-president of Bendigo’s Synergize Hub. He said co-working spaces were great places to hatch ideas conventional businesses deemed too new or risky.
“Many people are risk-averse. If you went to them, flipped a coin and said ‘I’ll give you $2000 for heads, $500 for tails and $1000 if you don’t play,’ well, a lot of people would not take the bet. But entrepreneurs see value differently,” he said.
More spaces expected
Martin Szakal, a strategist with local marketing and public relations company CPRMA Group, said he expected more co-working spaces to pop into existence across the state.
Mr Szakal helped edit Mr Tran’s list, which appears in new book Innovation Melbourne.
“There is plenty of opportunity, however there are also many traps, so it is vitally important that people use resources such as Innovation Melbourne to learn more before committing themselves in full.”