In spite of whispers of concern over access to talent amid Brexit, Facebook has opened a flagship innovation hub in London and pledges to create 800 jobs by the end of 2018.
Opening its new Oxford Street office on Monday, the tech giant will brings its UK-based workforce up to 2,300 since first establishing itself in the capital 10 years ago. Facebook will also offer a start-up make-space called LDN_LAB, where technology innovators will be invited to three month long programmes which the company promises will “help kick start and accelerate their business”.
The milestone comes at a time of intense scrutiny of the multinational tech organisation, with Australia announcing an investigation of Facebook and Google over whether the businesses have harmed the media sector. At the same time, both Facebook and Twitter have agreed to hand over data to assist a probe into possible Russian interference in the Brexit referendum vote.
Designed by Frank Gehry, the hub is the company’s largest engineering centre outside the US, consisting of seven floors and a purpose-built public square in Rathbone Place, beside Tottenham Court Road. More than half of staff at the new office will work in technological engineering, with a view to building upon the legacy Facebook has established in the area, including the creation of its Workplace app in 2015.
Other products conceived in London include Oculus software products for VR. As part of this, the tech organisation launched products such as Oculus Rooms and the recently announced Oculus Venues.
Once known purely for its social media platform, Mark Zuckerberg’s organisation also developed its camera artist tools and augmented reality in Britain’s capital, as well as camera technology which allows users to create effects, masks and in-world objects.
Soon, budding developers will have the opportunity to learn from Facebook experts in engineering, products and partnerships. The LDN_LAB will be specifically aimed at start-ups who aim to “create, build or empower communities through innovation and technology.”
Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President, Facebook EMEA said the company “is more committed than ever to the UK and in supporting the growth of the country’s innovative start-ups.
“The UK’s flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem and international reputation for engineering excellence makes it one of the best places in the world to build a tech company. This country has been a huge part of Facebook’s story over the past decade.”
At the time of writing, Facebook had been advertising 186 positions in London, United Kingdom on its careers platform.
“It is great to see a world-leading company like Facebook continuing to invest in London’s renowned tech ecosystem, despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit,” said Julian David, CEO, techUK. “Large businesses are key to supporting innovation and we are excited to see what becomes of the start-ups that can grow and scale as a result of this endeavour. The message is clear: London is open, and tech is the flag bearer.”