Google is to take over a seven-storey building in east London next year to support the area’s growing start-up scene.
The company revealed last Wednesday that it has signed a 10-year lease on a property in Bonhill Street, and will make the space available as a launch pad for London’s start-ups, entrepreneurs and developers.
Google made it clear that the building will not be an official office, but “an entirely new and different initiative”. Google’s existing headquarters in London will remain in Victoria.
The east London building will host a range of activities, such as speaker events, ‘hackathons’, training workshops and product demonstrations, and builds on investments Google has already made in the area.
In November 2010, UK prime minister David Cameron set out the government’s ambition for London’s East End, specifically the area between Old Street and the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford, to become a world-leading ‘Tech City’ to rival Silicon Valley.
Since then the area has received backing from a number of private and public investments and initiatives, including those by Google which was a founding partner of TechHub, the original workplace for start-ups in east London.
“We announced our involvement in the Tech City project last year, and we’ve been working hard to make this vision a reality,” said Google UK engineering director David Singleton.
“Finding a suitable building is the first major step, and we hope to announce more details about the organisations we’ll work with and how they will use the space in the coming months.”
Google may even invite TechHub (startup community space project) into its new offices, according to media speculation.
“I can’t comment on whether we would move there, but we have already said we have plans to move to a larger space later this year or early next year,” TechHub chief executive Elizabeth Varley told V3, adding that she is pleased Google has “followed up” its commitment to Tech City.
“It’s great that Google is moving forward with this, and it’s great that large companies see opportunities in collaborating with start-ups, rather than just seeing them as competition,” she said.
SEW Editor’s Note: London has been getting a lot of attention from the search giant recently. This summer UK Googlers moved from their offices in stuffy Victoria to the much trendier Soho area and now the company has announced plans to open a second office in Old Street, often known as Silicon Roundabout due to it’s reputation as the new tech mecca of East London.
Furthermore Google has officially opened its very first bricks and mortar channel Apple store. Known as the ChromeZone, London rather than San Francisco, plays host to the world’s first ‘Chrome Store’. The shop is a temporary fixture, also known as a pop-up shop, at PC World in Tottenham Court Road for the next 3 months leading up to Christmas. Chromebooks are available on Amazon but the goal of this store is to capture some of the 80 percent of laptop sales that happen in-person, in-store. A spokesperson for Google discussed the aims of the store with the Evening Standard.
“We found anecdotally that when people tried the device and played with it, that made a huge difference to their understanding of what the Chromebook is all about. People will be able to go in and have a play with the devices. We want to see whether people understand what this device is all about and monitor their reaction when they try it out.”
The only thing we’re scratching our heads about is… doesn’t Google hate pop-ups?