The startup scene in Berlin is tightly-knit in terms of contact and networking – but geographically it’s all over the shop, from Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg to Kreuzberg and Charlottenburg. Now, however, the German capital is finally getting a genuine tech epicentre in the form of The Factory, a massive new development alongside where the Berlin Wall once ran its menacing course.
Officially unveiled today, The Factory is being developed by JMES Investments, a Berlin-based angel and seed investor, in partnership with s+p Real Estate. And it’s already making a splash – SoundCloud has signed on the dotted line to become the big-name launch tenant when the campus opens later this year.
But The Factory is not just a glorified office block. It is designed to house the entire spectrum of startup-related businesses, from the SoundClouds of this world to budding new business, all sitting side by side with investors and mentors.
And yet it’s not simply an accelerator or an incubator, as Simon Schaefer from JMES – who invested in Silicon Allee last year – said: “We are creating a campus where startups can learn from each other and use collective knowledge to overcome early stage hurdles… We will have mentors, investors and new companies there together. It will be a synergetic ecosystem for new companies, with 3,000 square metres reserved just for them.”
The building on Rheinsberger Strasse, close to Brunnenstrasse, is being completely renovated and transformed, including the addition of two new storeys. The structure – previously the Oswald Brauerei – is adjacent to a former district boundary which marked the border between East and West Berlin, and a Wall memorial is located nearby.
There are also rumours that nearby buildings will be added to the campus, bringing the total available floor space up to around 10,000 square metres.
Initiated by a group of established German founders, who together will decide which companies to allow in, The Factory will be more than just a place to work. Simon explained how, just as large corporations like Microsoft and Google do for their employees, startups will get the chance to maintain a positive work/life balance, with the site including a restaurant, deli, fitness centre and sauna, basketball court, art gallery and extensive conference and roof terrace space.
Simon added: “You will hear a lot about this space during the summer, as we will make sure to involve the startup scene to the highest degree. This concept will not be formed by investors, but rather the scene itself.”
Alexander Grosse, VP of engineering for SoundCloud, said: “We believe The Factory will provide us with an environment that reflects the culture and working ethic of SoundCloud; one that fosters collaboration, innovation, creativity and development. We’re excited to share this new campus with like-minded startups at varying stages of growth.”
As the rush starts to secure space in The Factory, Berlin’s tech scene will be eagerly anticipating the arrival of a definitive startup epicentre.