Barclays Eagle Labs has officially launched a multimillion pound government-funded digital growth programme to support regional tech startups across the UK.

The bank’s startup network has opened applications for the £12m UK Government Digital Growth Grant after it was selected last month to run the scheme, beating Tech Nation.

It will include a series of business growth programmes, in partnership with best-in-class industry experts, as well as access to mentoring and educational resources.

Combined with Eagle Labs’ existing activity, the grant scheme has an ambition to support up to 22,000 businesses over the next two-years enabling growth across the UK tech sector.

Eagle Labs in Scotland are in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock.

Hannah Bernard, head of business banking, Barclays said: “We are delighted to continue to play a role in driving growth within the UK tech sector by helping startups, scaleups and entrepreneurs build successful businesses.

“The Digital Growth Grant will make our support accessible to even more businesses up and down the country and enable us to provide tailored growth programmes, first-class business mentoring and access to even more resources to drive further growth.

“By leveraging the depth and breadth of our wider banking connections, supporting our communities and enabling entrepreneurs to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed, we are helping all businesses to grow. This is the ethos that has been driving Barclays Eagle Labs since its inception in 2015 and drives every single colleague in our broader Business Banking team.” 

The content of the scheme will include:

  • Ecosystem Partnership Programme – Enabling organisations outside of London to apply for funding and deliver their own programmes that best support the challenges they are facing in their local area – whether that’s support for local technology businesses, mentoring for accelerators within that region or bringing together the best in class for a regional industry event. This programme will help deliver on a wider ambition that 80 per cent of businesses across the Digital Growth Grant and existing Eagle Labs activity are outside of London.
  • Scaleup Programmes – in collaboration with Cambridge Judge Business School: business leadership teams will receive tailored coaching and access to scaleup-specific learning, to help address their bespoke challenges and achieve their potential. Later in the year, Eagle Labs will deliver an additional six-month scaleup programme working to support companies with a focus on solving some of society’s challenges, in partnership with Plexal. 
  • HealthTech and AgriTech Industry Bridge Programmes – in partnership with Codebase: a twelve-month programme connecting corporates to startups and scaleups. These programmes will enable startups and scaleups to forge connections with some of the UK’s biggest firms and relevant peers working within their chosen industry, with the potential to share experience, drive collaboration and foster further growth.       
  • Funding Readiness Programme – in partnership with Capital Enterprise: An additional cohort of Eagle Labs’ virtual three-month programme of webinars, workshops and networking events, to educate founders on funding and to provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to attract investment and fund their business growth.

Another programme will launch later this year to support the growth of black-founded tech businesses who are at, or are about to enter, their scaleup stage, in addition to continued support for existing growth programmes including the Female Founder Accelerator Programme.

Both these programmes support an overall ambition to ensure at least 35 per cent of supported founders come from diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, sexuality and ethnicity.

Barclays Eagle Labs will also work with tech consultancy Plexal on a new programme known as Product Builder to support entrepreneurs in bringing their idea to life – to create and deliver a minimum viable product (MVP).

An Independent Advisory Board, made up of leaders who represent the diversity and regionality of the UK tech ecosystem, will provide oversight to ensure the programme delivers on its goals. Members include Alisdair Gunn, project director of Glasgow City Innovation District and Julie Grieve, a recently exited travel-tech founder.

Launching later this year, the grant will also fund the creation of the Knowledge Hub – an online platform with educational tools and modules designed to help founders run and grow their business. This will be accompanied by a series of monthly in-depth insight reports, in partnership with Beauhurst  on a range of topics and industries, to educate founders and inspire the next generation of UK entrepreneurs.

Paul Scully, minister for tech and the digital economy, said: “We want to give UK tech businesses the best start so their innovation can drive growth and investment across the country. Through the government-funded Digital Growth Grant, Eagle Labs will offer support and opportunities to help tens of thousands of startups and scaleups unlock their full potential. This is central to our plans to make the UK a tech and science superpower.”