The growing boundaries of tech companies’ office demand in China

Office demand from the technology sector is on the rise

November 14, 2019

Grade A office demand was slightly subdued in China in the first three quarters of this year, partially due to the deleveraging policy and current economic uncertainties. However, we continue to see steady growth from the technology sector, with several large-scale leasing transactions throughout multi cities in 2019 Q3. Many TMT tenants are actively seeking work space in Shenzhen, while in Shanghai, technology and new media companies are still leading the rental demand in the non-central business district.

This will represent an increasingly important demand driver in the future as newly released supportive policies continue to stimulate the growth of this sector. Additionally, companies in traditional industries are also expanding their tech-related functions.

Policy stimulus to drive technology sector growth       

Innovation is the first driving force to promote high-quality development, while enterprises are the mainstay of promoting technological innovation and industrial upgrading. With the stipulation that technological innovation is an important foundation for national development, local governments have successively issued various supporting policies in the past year, to accelerate the development of technology companies.

The announcement in 2019’s “Two Session” further supports technology companies’ development by issuing the rules of the new science and technology innovation board (STIB). On July 22, the first batch of 25 companies was listed on the board. This board is specifically set up for high-tech and strategically emerging sectors of vigorous growth potential, such as new generation IT, advanced equipment, new material and energy, and biomedicine. The pilot registration-based STIB features faster IPO process with higher market efficiency and transparency than the traditional approval-based system of A-share market. Increasingly financing channels will further spur growth in the tech and related sectors, which will translate to increasing office demand.

Office space demand by tech firms recognized nationwide

While Tier I cities continue to receive strong demand from technology companies for headquarters and front-office uses, Tier II cities are also receiving more inquiries from technology companies, especially from unicorn companies. In addition to a few established tech hubs such as Hangzhou, tech giants are seeking back-office opportunities in Wuhan, Chengdu, etc. to leverage lower personnel cost and more affordable office rents compared to Tier I cities. Examples include Meituan’s set-up of a new 6,800 sqm call center in Chengdu, and Lenovo’s expansion in Wuhan with a big-data center of 6,120 sqm.

Growing technology demand from traditional industries

Apart from the increase in office demand from the growth of tech companies, we have also discovered a spike in demand from traditional companies due who wish to expand their internal tech functions. Traditional companies are embracing tech, such as AI capabilities, to enhance their business performance; retailers are setting up online shops to promote sales; professional services companies are heavily investing in technology to deliver better results to clients; and financial companies are also actively investing in AI to improve profits.

In China, the growth of technology sector is policy-driven, nationwide, and even beyond the sector itself. Such growth will continue to stimulate office demand in key China cities.