Google opens Campus Warsaw tech hub
Spearheaded by experts at Google, Warsaw has created a hub for start-ups – Campus Warsaw, a tech centre and entrepreneurship incubator wrapped into one. The facility is Google’s first in Central Europe and the fifth in the world.
The old brick building situated in the former Koneser vodka factory in Warsaw’s Praga district has been given a new lease on life. From November 2015, it houses Campus Warsaw, a start-up hub created by Google. The facility is the fifth of its kind in the world and the first in Central Europe. It is open to young tech entrepreneurs from across the region.
The Campus offers office space and training facilities for several dozen start-ups, which are connected by their sound business ideas and eagerness to develop within their fields of expertise – something they are helped with by entrepreneurship gurus affiliated with Campus Warsaw.
“We organise two-day workshops for start-ups at different levels of development, using techniques applied at the best universities and accelerator programmes,” Polska.pl was told by Dr. Agnieszka Skala, Director of the “Nest” School of Business Innovation, the Polish partner of Campus Warsaw. The classes consist of extensive work on business plans within teams of two to three people. By sharing their knowledge and experiences, the experts help start-ups pinpoint new opportunities to develop their businesses quickly and effectively.
The founders of Campus Warsaw say that the centre is set to become a place where minds come together, “a brainstorming” hub. They also want the hub to equip young entrepreneurs with know-how with which they can conquer both Polish and foreign markets.
A campus with know-how and soul
What is the main goal of Campus Warsaw: to develop good ideas, to educate entrepreneurs or perhaps to help Polish start-ups succeed abroad?
Rafał Plutecki, the head of Campus Warsaw: For us, the campuses such as this one are places where entrepreneurs can gain knowledge, share experience and build companies that have the potential to change the world. That is why one of our main goals is to ensure that the start-ups are equipped with the right contacts, that they have access to people and knowledge – factors that are essential for start-ups if they are to develop and become successful abroad. We believe that education and mentoring will help Polish entrepreneurs create companies with global potential.
Campus Warsaw will host Polish as well as foreign entrepreneurs. Are you hoping to become a start-up hub for Central-Eastern Europe?
Poland has the biggest potential as it has the strongest economy in Central Eastern Europe. I hope that the money that has just been invested here will substantially improve technological firms in Poland and the region. Location plays an important role here. Campus Warsaw is meant as a regional hub – this is an obvious location, accessible to both entrepreneurs from Polish cities as well as from other countries in the region. From here, start-ups can go further – to London or New York. Apart from that, in no other country in the region does Google have as many employees. There are 400 people working at our two Polish offices, in Warsaw and Wroclaw. Just to compare, the Prague office only has several dozen employees.
What kind of training can start-upers expect at Campus Warsaw?
Entrepreneurs will find a range of training programmes and events on offer at the Campus: from mentoring meetings, during which experts share their knowledge, to Demo Days, where entrepreneurs have the chance to present their products. The meetings and events will be led by Google experts and members of society as well as the entrepreneurs themselves. During Campus Warsaw’s first month, Google will organise several programmes, including Mentoring@Campus, one-to-one meetings between entrepreneurs and Google experts taking place each Friday. Every week, advice will be given on different topics. Also on offer will be the Campus Exchange scheme, which was created to support the global ambitions of the entrepreneurs. Others events include monthly meetings for women working in tech – Women Breakfast at Campus – and meetings with representatives of Polish venture capital funds.
Why did Campus Warsaw choose the Warsaw district of Praga as its base?
We chose it because it is an excellent location. In central Warsaw, it is difficult to find such large spaces, apart from skyscrapers. These have become very expensive and this is supposed to be a space for the start-ups, which are making their first steps and need something accessible, price-wise as well. Apart from this, traditional office blocks are pretty cramped and not as friendly. Praga, on the other hand, is an ideal location. Above all, start-ups need to save money and this district is relatively cheap. The Campus itself is close to the metro, which makes it easy and fast to get to from most parts of Warsaw. The whole Koneser complex has an investor that wants to transform it into a dynamic place, full of events, culture centres and restaurants. The building that contains Campus Warsaw is beautiful – it has a soul. It feels as if we’re right in the heart of town.