Facebook has officially opened its first in-house incubator, which will be held in its London headquarters.
The company first announced LDN_LAB back in December when it opened its new HQ in the U.K. capital. The incubator will launch three 12-week courses throughout 2018, and seven U.K. startups will participate in the inaugural program, which kicked off on Monday.
Each three-month program will focus on helping startups grow their business, with the first intake aimed specifically at those using technology to build communities.
This feeds into Facebook’s broader mission to help people have more meaningful social interactions. Indeed, Facebook launched its first Communities Summit in the U.S. last year to bring group and page admins together under one roof, and it later expanded the program to Europe. A few weeks back, Facebook also pledged up to $10 million in grants for a new community leadership program.
Facebook’s new HQ in London’s West End is the company’s largest engineering hub outside the U.S. and is expected to house more than 2,000 employees by the end of 2018.
LDN_LAB is being spearheaded by an advisory panel that includes Facebook EMEA VP Nicola Mendelsohn, with support from London VC firm Bethnal Green Ventures. Participants will gain access to mentoring from “senior Facebook executives” who will cover such elements as product development, software engineering, data science, and marketing.
“Facebook itself emerged from a vibrant startup ecosystem, which enabled us to move fast and innovate,” noted Facebook VP for northern Europe Steve Hatch. “With LDN_LAB, we want to help pave the way for the next generation of startup success stories in London and across the U.K., who will ultimately grow the economy and create jobs.”
The first seven participants, which largely hail from London and which include five female founders, kicked off the program this week by meeting their mentors and pitching their startup. These include:
- Sharecare: a platform for connecting volunteers with elderly people who need support.
- Teacherly: a collaborative platform for teachers to create and share lesson plans.
- Olio: a network for neighbors to connect with each other and local shops to prevent surplus food from being thrown out.
- GoodGym: a nonprofit that connects runners with community-based volunteering initiatives.
- Mush: a social network for new mothers.
- Rabble: gamifying fitness to make it more fun.
- Tabl: an independent food community and marketplace.
The second segment of the program will focus narrowly on content creators from Facebook and Instagram, who will be given access to workshops and mentoring, while the third intake, which will begin in August, will invite participation from “community leaders and builders.” It appears this will focus largely on Facebook group and page admins.
Though LDN_LAB is Facebook’s first in-house incubator, the company has previously run incubators elsewhere. Last January, for example, it opened an incubator for data-driven startups on Paris’ Station F campus.