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Regional business accelerator hubs announced

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Rebecca Kincade on September 29, 2014 - 9:50 am in News

NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank are stepping up their support for entrepreneurs and high growth businesses with a network of eight new business accelerator hubs that will offer free workspace, hands on mentoring, a start up ‘bootcamp’ and a free programme of up to 18 months of advice, support and funding clinics.

Entrepreneurs will not only have the chance to gain access to hubs in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast, uniting them with fellow entrepreneurs, specially trained bank staff and full time enablers, but will also have the opportunity to go on to pitch to potential investors. ‘Growth awards’ of up to £50,000 will also be launched across the country. A further two locations will be announced next year.

The hubs will be rolled out over the next two years, beginning with Birmingham early in 2015. Building on the Entrepreneurial Spark model which has already proved very successful in Scotland, applicants will be welcomed from any sector and do not need to be NatWest, RBS or Ulster Bank customers.

Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking, said: “This is a step-change in how NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank support entrepreneurial talent in the UK. We are backing the businesses of tomorrow and helping ambitious entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level – which is good for them, good for us and ultimately good for the UK economy. We have a trusted partner in Entrepreneurial Spark and together we can really make a difference to those businesses at the start of their journey.”

The hubs will be physical work spaces for entrepreneurs selected to join the programme through a competitive application process, with each hub hosting two intakes every year. At the end of the programme each hub will host a ‘graduation’ event bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and business advisors for mentoring and networking sessions. These events will also see rewards for outstanding businesses and the opportunity for the graduating businesses to pitch to win cash injections for their business.

Jim Duffy, CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark, said: “Our work in Scotland has had a positive impact on the huge upsurge in the number of new business incorporations, and better still those who go through our programmes have an 80% survival rate which is way above average. Our shared vision with NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank is to create an entrepreneurial revival across the UK and Northern Ireland and we can’t wait to take our success story to benefit a wider audience.”

– Multi million pound regional support for entrepreneurs from any sector
– Free access to business accelerator hubs across the UK in NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank premises
– Up to 18 months free programme of hands on coaching, mentoring and acceleration
– Over £1m of cash awards to UK and Northern Ireland entrepreneurs.
– Regular educational and networking events
– Builds on successful partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark in Scotland


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