Google Campus London closes for startups after Covid

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Resident works with desktops and laptops on the Google Inc. tech campus in Tech City, East London.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON – Google is closing its own start-up space in London known as Campus.

The Silicon Valley tech giant announced Monday that it had decided not to “reopen” its East London campus after being forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are closing campuses to support startups across the UK,” the company said, claiming it can support startups across the country with no physical space.

Campus London was opened by Israeli tech veteran and Google employee Eze Vidra in 2012 when the London startup scene began.

Located in the gentrified Shoreditch neighborhood – just a few hundred yards from the Old Street roundabout known as the “Silicon Roundabout” – the campus has often been viewed as the epicenter of London’s Tech City, which some technicians say will never do that same again.

The campus included a co-working space, a café and an event room. It has been used by a variety of accelerators and start-up programs including Seedcamp, Entrepreneur First, Code First, and Silicon Drinkabout. Thousands of events have been held there over the years, and Google employees have come and offered startups free mentoring.

According to Google, the UK startup community “needs less access to a single shared physical space, but rather access to resources, mentors and programs that are available everywhere”.

“When I set foot on the London campus for the first time in 2012, it felt like magic,” said Marta Krupinska, head of Google for startups UK, on ​​Twitter. “It played a crucial role in making London such a successful start-up ecosystem and after almost 10 years a new chapter is opening. There is so much to celebrate and so much to do. “

Traffic flows around the Old Street roundabout, also known as the “Silicon Roundabout”, in the area known as “Tech City” in London, UK

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sarah Drinkwater, who ran Campus from 2014 to 2018, said on a blog Monday: “It is right that Campus will not reopen after the Covid shutdown. The scenes are changing and you have to play it as it is. “

Drinkwater, who worked on Google Maps before joining Campus, said there are now hundreds of coworking spaces in London and dozens of accelerators across the UK.

Tech entrepreneurs, developers, and investors remembered their days on campus on social media and blog posts.

“There were so many great memories and good friends met,” wrote Amandine Flachs, CEO and co-founder of Wild Meta AI, which aims to help video game developers create smarter, more human-like AIs with machine learning.

“That one seedy place on Bonhill Street provided the container for many different subcommunities to start or get together, and a path for incredibly diverse profiles trying to find out what this ‘tech’ thing was,” wrote Drinkwater.

“Repeatedly, I met an insecure early founder at the cafe trying to figure it out, and then ran into them a year later with a team and funding and a clear path forward,” said Drinkwater. “Sometimes these companies flew, sometimes they didn’t and there were great people in the market again.”

Google has additional locations in Madrid, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Warsaw. Google didn’t immediately respond when CNBC asked if it plans to close any of the other campuses.