Business

Surf, Sunsilk & startups? Unilever just launched a co-working space

By Oliver Smith 15 February 2017
Summary

The consumer goods giant has high tech aspirations in Singapore.

It’s a company best known for its bathroom brands, but British-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever just unveiled an unusual new project in Singapore. Its first co-working space.

Yes the 22,000-square-foot third floor of its regional headquarters in Singapore has been converted into a S$400 (£225) per desk/per month workspace for small tech businesses.

Level3's launch party.

What’s so unusual about this space, called Level3, is that it isn’t your typical ‘accelerator’ programme where a big company selectively invites smaller businesses to join, with an eye to eventually swallow them up.

Instead Level3 is open to anyone – although it will have a preference towards businesses focused on marketing and AdTech, enterprise tech, product and ingredient tech and consumer insights.

“A lot of other spaces are a way to monetize property,” Unilever’s Jonathan Hammond told Tech in Asia.

“Our starting point for Level3 is not a real estate play – it comes from a wish from Unilever to extend what they started doing with the Foundry.”

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Dr Beh Swan Gin, chair of the Singapore Economic Development Board at the launch of Level3.

Foundry is Unilever’s project where it publishes briefs for technologies it would like to pilot, and invites small tech businesses working in the field into a business partnership with Unilever.

The hope is that with Level3 Unilever’s teams in Singapore will be able to easily network with the tech businesses based in the same building, and discover interesting ways of working together.

Currently Level3 is home to around 15 businesses, but with so much space available this number will quickly rise.

Whether one of them will be the next Google, Facebook or Lynx deodorant… we’ll have to wait and see.