The LDN_LAB incubator sees the social media giant draw on its own startup roots to offer mentoring and training to young business leaders from across Britain.
LDN_LAB will offer three 12-week courses to support at least 20 startup businesses, with training and mentorship on offer from Facebook engineers and executives including the company’s EMEA vice president, Nicola Mendelsohn.
The space has been built inside Facebook’s London office, its largest base outside of the US, and will enable participants to gain one-to-one tuition from the platform’s experts in disciplines ranging from software and product development to data science and marketing.
The first programme is focused on businesses using technology to build a community, a key characteristic of Facebook’s own mission. Of the seven startups participating in the initial round – selected from a pool of over 100 applicants – five are led by female founders.
Tessa Cook, co-founder of OLIO, an app which enables neighbours to share surplus food and household items, said participating in LDN_LAB was a “huge opportunity” for her business.
“The knowledge and support we’ll get from working with Facebook’s experts will be invaluable in helping OLIO grow faster; and the faster we grow, the more good food we will save from going to waste. I can’t wait to get started”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also welcomed the opening of the incubator. “Facebook’s LDN_LAB will be a fantastic addition to London’s world-class tech ecosystem – particularly with its focus on tech for community benefit. The capital is alive with exciting tech start-ups and entrepreneurs and this initiative will help them to transform their ideas into the next big thing.”
Meanwhile, Steve Hatch, Facebook vice president of Northern Europe and one of the incubator mentors, explained why the platform was in a unique position to guide startups through crucial early stages.
“Facebook itself emerged from a vibrant start-up ecosystem which enabled us to move fast and innovate. With LDN_LAB, we want to help pave the way for the next generation of start-up success stories in London and across the UK, who will ultimately grow the economy and create jobs.
“This programme is all about giving our time, expertise, and knowledge – something that developers and entrepreneurs tell us is hugely valuable at this stage in their business or product development.”
Facebook has claimed LDN_LAB builds on the Community Boost initiative announced by chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg last month. The programme pledges to give bespoke tuition to 300,000 small business owners across the EU, with 50,000 UK entrepreneurs expected to benefit from digital skills training.
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