Campus Warsaw: Google Startup Hub No. 5

On November 19, Google opened a new coworking campus for startups in Warsaw, Poland. It is the 5th such complex in the world. The other campuses are based in London, Tel Aviv, Seoul and Madrid. The campus project is part of the Google for Entrepreneurs initiative. “Google started as a startup in garage, so supporting startups is part of our DNA,” explains Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman.

On Bitspiration, Anna Spysz has observed that a common reaction to Google’s decision to establish Campus Warsaw was surprise. Google has had an office in Cracow (Kraków), the second largest city in Poland, since 2006. In January 2013, it also launched the Google for Entrepreneurs Kraków (GEK) programme. Its events have become a popular meetup spot for the local startup community. If Google had already been well-established in Cracow, why then did it choose Warsaw for its new campus? In her speech at Reaktor Warsaw, a coworking space, Genna McKeel, Partnerships Manager for Google for Entrepreneurs, explained that the city fulfills all 3 criteria for a campus location: (1) It has a dense startup network. (2) Many Polish entrepreneurs who are already actively looking for investment and knowledge abroad can benefit even more from Google’s global network. (3) Local Google workers can provide them with mentorship.

In the Polish edition of Forbes, Rafał Plutecki, Head of Campus Warsaw, gives a few more reasons of Google’s choice of Warsaw for its campus. In his opinion, Poland has the biggest potential because it is the strongest economy in Central Eastern Europe (CEE). In addition, about 400 people work in Google’s offices in Warsaw and Wrocław. It is the biggest number of its staff in the region. Finally, Warsaw has a few support centres for entrepreneurs, which his team would like to unite.

Plutecki also reveals that Campus Warsaw has set a goal to organize at least 2 training sessions every day. It has already launched the Startup Accelerator: Growth! programme in partnership with Innovation Nest, a fund for European B2B software companies. Its partner TechHub Warsaw will be in charge of activities in the coworking space. 2 programmes are already known: (1) international experience exchange and (2) startup funerals, i.e. sharing startup failure stories to learn from mistakes.

“The aim of Campus Warsaw is to create a space which will integrate the startup community in the Central Eastern Europe region,” Plutecki told Gazeta Wyborcza. In his blog post, he mentions that Campus will especially benefit tech entrepreneurs. They can receive some practical information on design, product development, customer acquisition and other topics relevant to their businesses during everyday workshops. They also have the option to consult an expert during one-on-one mentoring sessions. Moreover, they can expand their network thanks to the Campus Exchange programme: coworking and interacting with international colleagues will soon become an everyday reality.

On Antyweb, Tomasz Popielarczyk forecasts that Campus Warsaw has a chance of becoming one of the most important innovation support centres in Poland. “Taking into account the fact that there are are only four other facilities of that kind in the world, it is an incredible opportunity for Polish startups […],” he adds. In his opinion, it is very likely that Campus will become a popular destination for entrepreneurs from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and other CEE countries.

References: [1] Kishalaya Kundu, Android Headlines / [2] Google Europe Blog / [3] Anna Spysz, Bitspiration / [4] Genna McKeel, via Vimeo / [5] Krzysztof Domaradzki, Forbes / [6] Michał Wojtczuk, / [7] Rafał Plutecki, Google Blog Polska / [8] Tomasz Popielarczyk, Antyweb