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Start-up programme shifts focus

NatWest takes control of E-Spark accelerator

Lucy-Rose Walker: Entrepreneurial Spark will ‘spread its wings’

NatWest bank has taken control of the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator programme, it has been announced.

Three years after forging a joint partnership, the handover to the RBS-owned bank is scheduled to complete on Wednesday 28 February before the next intake of entrepreneurs starting in the accelerator hubs at the start of April.

Entrepreneurial Spark, which has been working out of the RBS head office at Gogarburn, will now seek a new role in “mindset development”.

Since the launch of the partnership in 2014, Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest, has grown to become the world’s largest free business accelerator with 12 hubs across the UK.

Its latest impact report shows it was instrumental in £255m of cumulative investment, creating 8,096 jobs and supporting almost 4,000 entrepreneurs. 

In a statement it said focus has now shifted to allow both organisations to realise their wider ambitions in the “entrepreneurship and growth mindset spaces. 

“Entrepreneurial Spark is committed to continuing to realise its ambitions of generating positive social change but is now aiming to widen its scope.”

Lucy-Rose Walker, CEO at Entrepreneurial Spark said: “Over the last three years we have been on a mission to impact the lives of as many entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs as possible in order to create positive social change.

“NatWest gave us the opportunity to do that on a scale that we couldn’t have imagined when we first began this adventure, by tapping into their resource and expertise to unlock markets and provide locations for hubs across all four nations of the UK. 

“Now that we’ve completed the programme rollout, it’s a natural evolution for NatWest to run the accelerator now and continue the trajectory we’ve set. It seems only fitting that we’ve reached this agreement on the next chapter as we announce our most notable impact report to-date.

“After the successful partnership wraps up, Entrepreneurial Spark has the chance to further spread its wings and continue the wider mindset shift, thinking and acting like entrepreneurs.

“We’re in advanced discussions with a number of organisations, businesses and policymakers over the role of mindset development as we approach the fourth revolution and contemplate the future of work. It’s very exciting times at Entrepreneurial Spark. 

”On behalf of Entrepreneurial Spark I’d like to firstly thank the wonderful team we have built, without them, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have. Of course, I’d like to thank NatWest and our other partners for the support we’ve received on our journey.”

Alison Rose, CEO of commercial and private banking at NatWest said: “As the latest Impact Report clearly demonstrates, the comprehensive programme of free enablement, mentoring and bespoke coaching developed in partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark has revolutionised the way we support entrepreneurs, and is really working.

“We are committed to continuing this success, and through our UK-wide network of 12 business accelerator hubs, we will support and continue to change the lives of entrepreneurs by providing full wrap-around care to the UK’s most inspiring start-ups and high growth businesses.  

“On behalf of everyone NatWest, I want to thank Entrepreneurial Spark for the past three years in partnership and wish them every success with their future ambitions.” 

Entrepreneurs on current programme will see no disruption to their support with hubs remaining accessible and normal events and sessions continuing as planned.


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