Boost for Berlin Ecosystem as Factory, Google Team Up

By Conor Rushby |

“What is good for the Internet is also good for Google” – and that also holds true for  the Factory. The words were spoken by Dr. Ralf Bremer at Google’s Berlin office this morning at a press conference announcing the Internet giant as a ‘founding partner’ of the extensive startup hub now taking shape in Mitte.

The deal will see Google offer help in the form of technology, mentoring and other support to the tune of €1 million over three years. The Factory, when open, will provide more than 10,000 square metres of space to startups big and small. SoundCloud, Mozilla and 6Wunderkinder will all be moving in when the site, which runs along the route of the Berlin Wall, is finished next year.

Under the deal, StartUp-Weekend and Google Developers will conduct workshops for developers and entrepreneurs, adding to the mix of creativity set to be bouncing around the place. Google employees will also be close to hand to give advice, on either an on-off basis for specific problems, or otherwise as part of their mentoring program.

In addition, the Factory decked out with a tech lab and equipped with Google hardware such as Android Tablets and Chrome Books. Developers will be able to pop in there when required, while a free software package of Google services for startups is also in the pipeline.

Bringing a Lot of Liveliness

Jenny Jung, brand manager at the Factory, said: “They are bringing a lot of liveliness to the Factory, but that is also something the whole community in Berlin will profit from because all these initiatives are open to the public, not just for tenants in the Factory, but to the whole ecosystem, and that was something very important to us.”

Tuesday morning’s unveiling on Unter den Linden also saw speeches from Martin Omander, in charge of developer relations for Google Outreach, his colleague Max Senges, Simon Schäfer from JMES, the developers of the Factory, and Ramin G. Far, of URGE IO, an early tenant (alongside the Silicon Allee editorial team).

Ramin told the story of his company and a taste of what it’s like to be moving in to the Factory. He said: “You have to be close to people who are doing the same as you, who face the same problems, the same challenges. Now we are together with SoundCloud, 6Wunderkinder, with amazing upcoming startups like Views, like Toast. This is the environment I want, because if there is nobody around you, you’re not inspired enough.”

The growing importance of Berlin to Google was underlined by the presence of Martin Omander, normally based at the company’s California HQ, who took pictures of the crowd to prove, as he said, to his colleagues back home that the German startup scene was alive and kicking. He said: “We are very excited in developer relations about the Factory, because this gives us an easy way to meet startups in the Berlin area. We have lots of programs that we could run out of a place like this. There are Google developer groups for example, these are developers outside of Google, who use Google developer technolgies, and they get to get other and swap stories, about what doesn’t work and what does, and help each other.”

Becoming More Involved

Following the press conference, Martin told Silicon Allee that the partnership was the ideal chance for Google to become more involved in the startup scene: “We don’t want to build something from scratch. We want to help others, and be part of the community, and be one of many, many players in the ecosystem. If we do everything [ourselves] it will be sort of artificial – so this is ideal.”

And Dr. Bremer added: “We have worked with other hubs in Berlin, and the concept of the Factory presented to us was really persuading. The intellectual content was really close to the ideas that Google Entrepreneurs has, and also the timeline was very close to our own goals, for doing some measures in Germany for the startup scene.

“We hope this will be another milestone for Berlin, as the internet capital of Germany, or as is often discussed, Europe.”