Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read October 2019 — As the need for office space continues unabated, innovative solutions like coworking spaces are rising to fill the gap. One such coworking space is The Ring, which is a state-of-the-art co-working space with an emphasis on health and wellness. It is based in Downtown Clearwater. The Ring held its grand opening on April 26 and is home to over 70 companies across the Tampa Bay area, with about 110 people coming to the space on a daily basis. Invest: spoke with Daniels Ikajevs, chairman of The Ring Workspaces, about his innovative approach to office space, its collaboration with Harvard University and why Clearwater is the perfect location for The Ring Workspaces.
Why was it important to construct The Ring to WELL standards?
WELL standards are still fairly new, but they are becoming more commonplace. There is some similarity with LEED building standards, but WELL is more human-centric, and it looks at what is important for people inside the physical space, such as quality of the air, nutrition inside the space, access to daylight, biophilia and other health and wellness-related aspects. It also focuses on everything that LEED emphasizes, like quality of the materials, energy efficiency, and so forth. There is only one WELL-certified co-working space in the world and that is in Boston. We are in the process of getting our certification, and unlike in Boston where they have silver-level certification, we are going for the platinum level.
What are some ways The Ring is working to help promote and foster the startup and tech ecosystem in the region?
One of the ways we are doing this is through a collaboration The Ring entered with Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health to pilot their innovation and sustainable technology program in Tampa Bay. This will be the first U.S.-based location for this program. It will happen over the course of two years, and will consist of a first and second round in which the university professors will teach young startups how to bring their ideas into reality. They will provide a blueprint on what investors are looking for when they go out and try to raise money. At the end of the program, people who are successful in funding their ideas will receive a certificate of completion from Harvard University T.H Chan School of Public Health.
How is Clearwater the perfect match for a coworking space like The Ring?
When we were looking at locations for The Ring, we looked at what makes Clearwater a more attractive market for startups. Clearwater offers lower real estate costs in comparison to similar Tampa and St. Petersburg markets. We are geared more toward the startup culture, and because the cost of doing business in Clearwater is less than anywhere else in Tampa Bay, we thought we could use this environment to attract more startups. As a startup you try to save money every step of the way until you reach the maturity stage of the business, so real estate is one of the biggest values that Clearwater can offer. The overall business environment in Clearwater is also in line with the four principles of The Ring, which are health, innovation, sustainability and productivity.
What does the future of coworking spaces look like?
Coworking spaces will continue on an upward trend, especially as more startups emerge all around the Tampa Bay region. In this fast-moving business environment it is very difficult for these startups to predict the amount of space they will need in the near future, so coworking spaces like The Ring that offer flexible memberships where these businesses can upgrade or downgrade with ease are a huge benefit. Flexibility is key for startups, which is why big players in the coworking space, like Spaces, are expanding quickly to address the growing demand. It will also be interesting to see how the coworking concept works in a down market, as this has not been properly tested yet. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a down market in real estate in the near future, so we will pay special attention to see how this market adjusts and operates when this happens.
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