Facebook launches its first tech startup incubator
Facebook has opened its very first in-house startup incubator at its London office.
The LDN_LAB programme will offer three 12-week courses throughout the year, supporting more than 20 startups who will be mentored by Facebook engineers and executives on a range of areas including software, product development, data science and marketing.
Developed in partnership with London-based investment fund Bethnal Green Ventures, the incubator opened its doors on Monday with the first wave of seven startups chosen from a pool of 100 applicants. Five of the initial seven startups are led by female founders.
“Facebook itself emerged from a vibrant start-up ecosystem which enabled us to move fast and innovate,” said Steve Hatch, Vice President, Northern Europe at Facebook. “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.”
Based in Facebook’s London office, which is the firm’s biggest engineering base outside America, the scheme’s first 12-week phase is focusing on startups that are creating, building or empowering communities through innovation and technology. The first wave of startups includes Teacherly, a collaborative platform for teachers to create and share lesson plans.
“Our vision is to connect every teacher in the world through our collaborative lesson planning platform,” said Atif Mahmood, Founder and CEO of Teacherly. “We want to make a significant impact on the way teachers plan lessons and share best practice, eliminating the burden of admin and reducing their planning workload. Facebook LDN_LAB programme is a perfect fit for us with access to Facebook’s engineers and mentorship to help us reach and connect more teachers.”
The inaugural LDN_LAB class also includes Sharecare, a method of connecting volunteers to help elderly people with everyday tasks. “Sharecare is tackling the social care crisis by building a community of volunteers who care for local older people,” said Clara Maguire, Founder and CEO of Sharecare. “We’re very excited to do this in the first Facebook LDN_LAB, focusing on building communities. During the 12 week programme we will working with their expert mentors to develop our new app, and massively grow our community.”
The second wave of startups will focus on content creators from Facebook and Instagram, while the third wave, starting in August, will welcome community builders such as admins on Facebook Groups and give them practical advice on how to grow their communities.
“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,” said London Mayor, Sadiq Khan
“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,” said London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. “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.”
The LDN_LAB incubator builds on Facebook’s Community Boost initiative which was announced by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg last month and aims to give digital skills training to 50,000 small businesses. Facebook is also running the #SheMeansBusiness scheme which is working with 50,000 female entrepreneurs across the UK this year, having already provided training to 10,000 women in 2017.
Last year, Facebook hit the 2 billion user mark while founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg used his usual New Year Resolution post in January to vow to improve the site and crack down on misuse and the spread of fake news.