Google is planning to relocate up to 5,000 staff in Europe to a giant new UK headquarters in London’s King’s Cross district over the next few years, but the company’s startup hub, known as Campus, won’t be joining them.
Sarah Drinkwater, head of Campus at Google, told Business Insider that “Campus is very happy at Bonhill Street [in East London].” When asked if Campus will stay where it is, she replied: “Of course.”
Google currently has two other large offices in London at Tottenham Court Road and Victoria, but it’s likely that the company will abandon these premises as soon as the £1 billion HQ behind King’s Cross Station is finished.
Google initially said the HQ would be complete by 2016, but the project has been plagued by delays, forcing it to take a temporary lease on a new building opposite the planned HQ.
One Google division that has already quietly moved to King’s Cross is the much-hyped Google DeepMind artificial intelligence unit, which is thought to have approximately 150 staff.
Google Campus London, launched in 2012, is a place where Google aims to engage with and support the next generation of startups. The multi-storey building in East London is a five minute walk from Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout and features a coworking space, an event space, a device lab, and an accelerator space.
“King’s Cross is a very exciting and popular area but having seen the the East End grow and the density of Shoreditch it’s really exciting for us,” said Drinkwater. “I was at Ozone [a coffee shop] this morning and I saw five different people that work in this field. That’s what’s exciting.
“You can walk around Shoreditch and Old Street and bump into people very fast,” she continued, adding that isn’t the case in Silicon Valley, which spans a much larger area.
Old Street is widely regarded as the epicentre of London’s startup scene but several other neighbourhoods — from Soho and Canary Wharf to Croydon and Clerkenwell — have also established their own startup communities as commercial rent prices around Shoreditch have increased.
Last month estate agent Stirling Ackroyd found there are 3,228 tech firms for every square kilometre within Old Street’s EC1V postcode compared to 58 tech firms per square kilometre across the rest of the capital.
Drinkwater made the comments at the launch of Girls in Tech London, which is a new program designed to support female technologists and get more women onto the boards of technology companies. Drinkwater will mentor some of the young women on the six-month program alongside executives from the likes of Spotify, Amazon, and TechStars.