The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) announced it is opening its global headquarters in Edinburgh to Scottish business organisations and entrepreneurs to encourage entrepreneurialism and promote economic growth.
The bank is transforming its former ‘executive wing’ into a centre for entrepreneurs and innovation “to bring together Scotland’s enterprise ecosystem to share knowledge and expertise and encourage collaboration to support fledgling businesses”.
The centre will house staff from business organisations: Entrepreneurial Spark; Entrepreneurial Scotland; Business Gateway; Napier University; Scottish Edge; The Princes Trust Scotland; The Lens (Scotland’s social EDGE Fund); Big Noodle; Bright Red Triangle; and We are the Future. It will also be home to an Entrepreneurial Spark Business Accelerator Hub, including a ‘hatchery’ for early stage start-ups and a ‘nest’ for high growth, high impact businesses.
The accelerator hub will house up 80 entrepreneurs, who will receive free office space and WiFi as well as access to specially trained RBS staff and business mentors. They will also benefit from the opportunity to collaborate and network with the enterprise support organisations and fellow entrepreneurs sat alongside them. RBS employees will also be encouraged to collaborate and network with business owners located in the centre, not just to share their expertise, but to help staff learn first hand more about the challenges faced by start-up businesses.
Entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to pitch to potential investors and compete for growth awards of up to £100,000, which will provide much needed cash injections when their businesses need it most. Applicants for the accelerator hub will be welcomed from any sector and do not need to be RBS or NatWest customers.
Ross McEwan, chief executive of RBS, said: “It is not just start-up businesses that need to be innovative and forward thinking to thrive and grow; RBS needs to be as well. That is why we are opening up our headquarters so that we can support Scottish businesses of tomorrow, not just with infrastructure, but through the chance to collaborate with experts and other like minded business owners. This marks a step change in how we can work with partners to support our local economy.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We want to see a Scotland that is a world leader in innovation – that’s a key way in which we can continue to grow our economy. Everyone should have equal opportunity for entrepreneurial success so it’s fantastic that this new centre will now be home to organisations which work to give people that chance.”
Jim Duffy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Spark, added: : “We are delighted that Entrepreneurial Spark will be moving into the new RBS Entrepreneurial Centre this year. The support we’ve had to date from RBS has really helped Entrepreneurial Spark in our own entrepreneurial journey, from providing cash investment and physical space in our new cities, through to opening up the group’s extensive business network to us. We have seen a great number of technology entrepreneurs come through the Edinburgh hatchery to date, so will seek to build upon this success as we strengthen our tech start-up offering in Edinburgh, whilst also supporting entrepreneurs from each and every other sector.”
An RBS spokesman said the bank was a “key supporter of Scottish enterprise, providing banking services to over 10,000 start-up businesses in 2014 alone”. RBS recently appointed Gordon Merrylees as head of entrepreneurship RBS and NatWest, and is launching eight new Business Accelerator Hubs with Entrepreneurial Spark in the UK, the first of which opened in Birmingham last month. These latest developments build on the success of RBS Inspiring Enterprise, which has supported the UK’s entrepreneurial eco-system for the last two and a half years, encouraging and enabling over 88,000 potential entrepreneurs across the UK.