Facebook launches LDN_LAB, an in-house incubator for UK digital start-ups

Based in the social media giant's new London office in Rathbone Place, seven start-ups have already been selected to attend the 12-week programme

Facebook has announced the official opening of LDN_LAB, its in-house incubator for UK digital start-ups.

Based in the social media giant’s new London office in Rathbone Place, the incubator will offer three 12-week courses during 2018, which aims to help more than 20 start-ups grow their business via the use of technology.

Launched to resident start-ups last Monday, seven start-ups are included in the first cohort – five of which are led by female founders.

During their time in LDN_LAB, the start-ups will receive training and mentorship from Facebook engineers and execs including Nicola Mendelson (EMEA VP) and Steve Hatch (Facebook’s VP Northern Europe).

Topics covered in the one-to-one tuition will include software, product development, data science, and marketing.

Led in partnership with London-based investment fund Bethnal Green Ventures, the first 12-week chapter will focus on start-ups who are creating, building or empowering communities through innovation and technology.

While the second chapter will invite content creators from Facebook and Instagram to have access to studio sessions, workshops, and mentorship from experts within Facebook.

Finally, the third chapter, which starts in August, will welcome community leaders and builders such as admins of Facebook Groups and Pages to help them grow their communities.

Every chapter involves a series of practical workshops, one-to-one mentorship, peer-to-peer support and more established entrepreneurs coming in to share their experiences and journeys.

Chosen from over 100 applicants, the first seven start-ups selected for LDN_LAB have been chosen because of their focus on using tech to build communities, which aligns with Facebook’s own mission of bringing the world and people closer together.

The first seven businesses to take part in LDN_LAB are:

  • Teacherly (from Derby): A collaborative platform for teachers to create and share lesson plans. Teacherly offers a faster, easier and smarter way for teachers to plan and deliver teaching and helps reduce the burden of planning by building a community of teachers who can share materials and lesson plans.
  • OLIO (from London and Bristol): Connects neighbours with each other and with local shops so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away.
  • GoodGym (from London): A non-profit digital platform that connects runners with volunteering tasks in their communities.
  • Sharecare (from London): Revolutionising care by connecting and mobilising a unique community of local volunteers to provide elderly people with help for everyday tasks.
  • Mush (from London): The number one app for new mums in the UK. Connecting mums through a local social network.
  • Rabble (from London): Getting more people into fitness by disguising exercise as games. Founded by a former Olympic athlete.
  • Tabl (from London): The UK’s first independent food community and marketplace, allowing people to buy directly from craft producers, attend inspiring food events and experiences and find unique recipes created by the community.

Steve Hatch, vice president for Northern Europe Facebook, said:

“Facebook itself emerged from a vibrant start-up ecosystem which enabled us to move fast and innovate. 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.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, added:

“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.

“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.”