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Ross McEwan says bank also needs to innovate

RBS to transform wing of Gogarburn HQ into centre for entrepreneurs

RBS hqRoyal Bank of Scotland has today thrown its support behind growing businesses by turning a wing of its sprawling Edinburgh headquarters into a centre for entrepreneurs.

The new ‘accelerator hub’ will become home to a number of start-up organisations including Entrepreneurial Spark, Business Gateway and the Princes Trust Scotland.

The establishment of the centre in a former executive wing at Gogarburn is seen as a move by RBS to bring it into closer contact with its customers. It has been a backer of Entrepreneurial Spark, an incubator for start-ups, since it was set up three years ago.

Up to 80 budding tycoons will receive free office space and wi-fi as well as access to RBS advisers and mentors. They will benefit from an opportunity to collaborate and network with the enterprise support organisations and like-minded entrepreneurs.

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.

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.”

Entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to pitch to potential investors and compete for growth awards of up to £100,000, which provide much needed early oxygen by way of cash injections when 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.

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.

Working together– across all sectors – to make Scotland a great place to do business is a key part of ‘Scotland CAN DO’ – our national platform for boosting entrepreneurship.”

Jim Duffy, chief executive of  Entrepreneurial Spark said: “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.”

Allan Watt, director Prince’s Trust Scotland, said: “Prince’s Trust Scotland welcomes this exciting development by RBS in supporting Enterprise in Scotland.  Scotland’s young people can only benefit by bringing together the widest range of enterprise support possible to find the entrepreneurs of the future and then help them to start and grow their businesses.”

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.

Scottish Edge is supported by RBS, the Scottish Government and The Hunter Foundation. Entrepreneurial Spark is the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures from all sectors that is completely free for the entrepreneur and takes no equity in supported businesses. Located across four spaces in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayrshire and Birmingham, with further UK locations launching over the next 18 months.

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