Entry 29, Canberra’s co-working space has moved to a new, convenient location: the ACT Health building at the corners of Moore & Alinga Streets in Civic. Leaving 17a Childers Street, Acton, the co-working space now sits several stories above the Canberra CBD. The move provides new amenities and facilities for Canberra’s entrepreneurs. Located on the top floor of the ACT health building, the new offices boast fantastic views and coffee rooms. For a venture funded by Canberra’s own entrepreneurs; the new offices and their central location show how innovation in the city is alive and well. The original location was opened in May of 2013 by ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr. With barely two years in a venue formally used as a dance studio Entry 29 has now arrived in a space shared with the CBR Innovation Network and the Griffin Accelerator. The co-working spaces put aside for the entrepreneurs have an informal atmosphere built around the absence of dividing cubicle walls. As I toured the building with Entry 29’s manager Matt Stimson, I was shown the preferred side entrance and the key pass system which allows for a smooth, secure flow of foot traffic in and out of the building. Matt currently offers tours of the new space from twelve o’clock during select weekdays.
Entry 29’s move away from close proximity to the ANU is unlikely to affect active student participation in the co-working space, as according to Matt only around five percent of those using the space currently are students. Though, the cross-institutional students who recently won the InnovationACT 2014 business model program will receive the use of three months free co-working space and like all users, the joy of cost price coffee and soda. Fees for the use of the fantastic facilities are slated to rise in the coming weeks for new members and from the coming January for existing members. With five different tiers of pricing based on time increments, the prices still work out to be significantly cheaper than renting a room in a residence in the surrounding suburbs.
Entry 29 is now one of many co-working spaces in the Canberra area. Many of the new spaces popping up around the city, geared toward entrepreneurs and business people, use an assortment of ephemeral language and buzzwords to define themselves. There are now: ‘creative collective spaces’; ‘creative office spaces’ and even galleries opening their doors to working groups. The proliferation of co-working spaces and intersecting definitions can in part be put down to the use of unfilled office spaces. In speaking with Matt from Entry 29, it is clear to see that competition within the Canberra entrepreneurial community is a good thing. With its central, CBD location Entry 29 could be said to have the most convenient location of all, with a twenty five dollar swipe card giving access to members 24/7. In being a shared space, members are asked to exercise due diligence in allowing guests into the working spaces. Once one arrives through the side entrance there is a short elevator ride to the top floor and a set of glass doors to left. Through the glass doors are also the offices of Asbestos Response Taskforce.
In being a not for profit venture; Entry 29 helps entrepreneurs and start-ups through the life cycles of successful ventures. Being a not for profit organisation also allows Entry 29 not to suffer financially once teams reach the latter stages of development and move onto different locations. This nurturing approach fosters innovation in the city and allows for collaborations, such as InnovationACT’s use of the previous address to hold their business model competitions since 2012. The previous location has also been used by groups as far ranging as The Unlikely Poet for presentations and events.
In a coup for existing members, the transition to better facilities seems to have gone off without a hitch and plans exist to furnish the space with such fantastic equipment as a green screen and sound set up. Already existing facilities include a ‘mobile test station’. As I imagine most would, I asked Matt to clarify ‘mobile test station’ and its use. For my fellow technologically inept, the term refers to an assortment of different generations of popular smart phones used to test applications in their intended environment. Following the excitement of the move, the acquisition of new equipment and amenities, manager Matt Stimson says he hopes to achieve a ‘critical mass’. This and a fostering of innovation are absolutely possible in the new environment which aims to and succeeds in providing an experience better than a home office. If you working out of a residence or a space of little use and are in need of something more conducive to work, than Entry-29 with its central location would appears to be the logical solution. Recent additions to the space, since I meet with manager Matt Stimson last week include more furniture and greenery, helping to brighten up a once plain office space. ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher will open the new location tomorrow, November 7th as part of the launch of the ‘CBR Innovation Network’.