The Factory: Berlin’s Brilliant New Startup Epicentre

The Factory: Berlin’s Brilliant New Startup Epicentre

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.”

A rendering of the inside of The Factory

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.

Another image of The Factory

About David Knight

David is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Silicon Allee. Originally from London, he has lived in Berlin for over seven years, having previously worked for news portals including Bild.de and Spiegel Online before helping to found Silicon Allee in 2011.

51 comments

  1. Anyone got some info about who’s going to be “in”, besides Soundcloud and 6Wunderkinder?

  2. Wonderfull to have these inspiring examples of creative innovations in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship. Looking forward to translate the concept for Eindhoven in à Centre for Social Innovation.

  3. I really like it.

    One point that could be problematic is the elitist, top-down approach of “…founders, who together will decide which companies to allow in”. That doesn’t sound like an organic, bottom-up process. I know that Europe has an aristocratic heritage but I thought the startup scene is one of the industries that is trying to break away from that.

    • Yes, that does not sound too inviting.

      I wonder if the lean-startup idea is passé or why Berlin companies – usually known for just having found some investors – can afford to put their money into property. Especially in a market where a huge amount of offices are empty.

    • Yes, hmmm, good to know such details. More importantly, what is the criteria based on? If they are legitimate reasons, I suppose it does not matter if the decision makers are a board of founders whose opinions are respected.

    • Well in a meritocracy, the established upper tiers will usually end up shutting off access to their ranks from “below”. There is really no difference between Europe or, for that matter, the US. And the aristocrac history of europe does certainly not play a role in this kind of development other than being a symptom of the same socialogical factors …

  4. This looks fantastic. What a great environment to foster collaboration!

  5. Cool, too bad we just moved to a new office space at Schönhauser Allee…

  6. I think they got the meaning of work-life-balance a bit wrong. Life means beeing away from work and office.

    Apart from that I hope they manage to include small-sized offices as well. Too often landlords only offer spaces starting from 300sqm in such buildings. Which is rather rather startup unfriendly.

    • HEILPRAKTIKER ARNOLD

      I agree on that notion – but developing a sustainable environment for innovative start-ups and their ‘human resource’ needs more sophisticated concepts than a gym and a deli. i am looking forward to my new neighbors and possible contribution to true holistic work-life-balance … ;)

  7. I really wonder if 6w and sc even still exist when this is done. Berlin-Scene starts to play bullshit-bingo alot

  8. Nice idea. But what’s the point of excluding copy cats when calling the place “The Factory”? What about finding a unique name?

    • :)

      Good point. The name also evokes negative images of dull assembly lines and human exploitation. But maybe “The Factory” becomes a breeding place for something like unions as well. Would be good for the entire sector.

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