For the critics of the Factory, the much anticipated and hyped new startup campus in Berlin was just another BER Airport. In comparison to the endless airport construction site in Schönefeld, the construction delays of the startup campus project are manageable. However, instead of finishing at the end of 2012 as the Factory mastermind Simon Schaefer would have hoped – or even in the second quarter of 2013, as Schaefer planned for November 2012 – the building will be finished in June 2014.
There are many reasons for this. Schaefer explains that “bunkers and grenades” were found at the construction site. In addition, “we took on the hardest job”: converting an old building into a new one. 48 steal beams were “built into the entire building” and another two floors were added on. “That was actually pretty impressive,” comments Schaefer.
Renters are expected to be able to move in in June or by the latest July. This includes Berlin’s showcase startup 6Wunderkinder that has since been working in the building next door. It plans to turn its current office into apartments for newly arrived employees. In addition to the makers of the Wunderlist, Mozilla and SoundCloud will be moving in along with the startups Toast, Ding Dong and Merisier.
The grand opening of the Factory is planned for June 11. A special highlight: The keynote speech will be given by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. The search engine company has been involved with the Berlin coworking project for some time and supports the campus through its entrepreneurship program.
Plans for the second Factory in the works
After taking more than two years to build the Factory, Schaefer and his investment firm JMES are not yet sick of the startup campus concept. Schaefer confirms that there are already plans for a new Factory. “We want to do more, also in Berlin.” They are looking at more locations in Europe.
In Berlin, there are already plans for a second building, but the exact location is still open. Schaefer explains that one reason for the expansion was the already high demand for the office space in the first Factory that would have exceeded the amount of available space (16,000 square meters). The second reason is that it is extremely important for the Berlin startup ecosystem that similar hubs like the Factory are built. That is what the McKinsey study from 2013 showed. The study has become something of a guide for the Berlin Senate on startup politics.
Schaefer did want to exclude the fact that the next financing round will also include the public sector. He points out that nothing is signed at the moment. And there is a little bit of time pressure. For construction, he learned that leaving enough time is important. “We want to bring this Factory to an end first.”
Image Credit: Gründerszene
Translated by: Elena Rueckert