Google has announced it will close down physical offices in London that have acted as a hub for up-and-coming UK startups, in favor of a new virtual-first approach.
Almost ten years since the first Google for Startups (GFS) campus opened in the city, the company is pivoting to an alternative model that should provide equal opportunity to startups across the country.
The decision to close down the London campus was driven, predictably, by the rise of remote working during the pandemic and the realisation that guidance can be administered effectively from afar.
“We faced the challenge alongside our community, pivoting our programs and reinventing our core offerings to better serve startups when they needed us most,” Google explained.
“This shift demonstrated that, similar to the support we provide in other advanced startup ecosystems like the US and Germany, we can provide support for startups right across the country without a physical space.”
Google startups program
Since the start of the pandemic, Google says it has assisted upwards of 50 UK startups and held training sessions for more than 1,300 entrepreneurs in the country.
Broadly, according to the Silicon Valley giant, startups across Europe have continued to build momentum during the pandemic, despite the obvious headwinds. European startups are said to have created circa 16,000 new jobs and secured 10% more investment than in 2019, before the crisis struck.
“As the British startup ecosystem has matured, so have the needs of its entrepreneurs. Much has changed since 2012,” noted Google.
“The UK now receives 36% of all investment in tech in Europe, and is home to the largest number of engineers and startups, as well as a third of European unicorns. The UK startup community doesn’t need access to a single shared physical space as much as it needs access to resources, mentors and programs available at scale, anywhere.”
For entrepreneurs hoping to receive support from Google, not all that much will change, the company has assured. The same team will continue to provide guidance and deliver support, both in-person and virtually – just without a physical London hub.
“Our approach to supporting startup communities around the world, and leveling the playing field for all founders to succeed, is one that we tailor to each community we work with,” added the firm.
“We look forward to continuing to serve local startup communities as they go from strength to strength.”