The First Minister has welcomed the launch of a state-of-the-art “hatchery” at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Edinburgh headquarters.
The state-backed lender has announced it is converting the executive wing of its Gogarburn building, west of the city, into an incubator hub for early stage start-ups and high-growth, high-impact fledgling businesses.
Staff for the facility will come from organisations such as Business Gateway, Edinburgh Napier University and Prince’s Trust Scotland. Entrepreneurs moving into the Gogarburn complex — which already houses more than 3,000 head office staff — will be offered free wi-fi connected offices and access to RBS mentors.
Companies will have access to conference and meeting rooms when ‘selling’ their business to new clients. They will also be offered presentation coaching and the chance to pitch to potential investors and compete for growth awards of up to £100,000.
“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,” admitted the bank’s chief executive, Ross McEwan.
“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,” he added. “This marks a step change in how we can work with partners to support our local economy.”
The scheme has already received the support of the country’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon (pictured), who commented: “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.”
The Glasgow-founded Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark) — the world’s largest free business accelerator offering business support to start-up companies — has also committed to the RBS initiative and is collaborating with the bank to launch eight accelerator hubs across the UK, the first of which opened in Birmingham last month.
ESpark’s chief executive is Jim Duffy. “The support we’ve had to date from RBS has really helped 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,” he said.
“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.”