RBS banks the honours at finance sector awards

RBS head of entrepreneurship Gordon Merrylees, left, with Jim Duffy of Entrepreneurial Spark. Picture: Chris Watt
RBS head of entrepreneurship Gordon Merrylees, left, with Jim Duffy of Entrepreneurial Spark. Picture: Chris Watt
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Royal Bank of Scotland was last night named winner of the Scottish Financial Services Awards 2015.

The Edinburgh-based banking group was recognised for its partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark creating a network of start-up business accelerator hubs across the UK, providing new enterprises free access to a range of support and guidance.

RBS fought off stiff competition from three other finalists – Linc Scotland, Avaloq and the Glasgow Economic Leadership.

Run by Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE), the awards are sponsored by accountancy firm EY and supported by The Scotsman.

Picking up the gong at SFE’s annual dinner in Edinburgh, Gordon Merrylees, head of entrepreneurship at RBS, said: “The teams at RBS and Entrepreneurial Spark are delighted to win this prestigious award and, as the only bank providing free business accelerators for early stage and start-up businesses across the UK, we would like to thank the judges for ­recognising the success of this partnership.

“We have worked hard with Entrepreneurial Spark to provide support to hundreds of entrepreneurs across the country. By 2017 there will be at least 13 hubs across the UK, based in Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank buildings, supporting around 7,000 entrepreneurs over a five-year period.”

Jim Duffy, founder and chief executive of Entrepreneurial Spark, said: “I’m thrilled for the team at RBS on their award win, as Entrepreneurial Spark’s recent success and expansion is largely due to the fantastic support which we have received from RBS. One of the most exciting ventures of all is the opening of a hatchery in RBS’s Gogarburn headquarters in Edinburgh – especially given the city’s place as a destination of choice for world leading tech entrepreneurs. This is a strong signal from RBS that the bank is determined to support entrepreneurs across the UK.”

Since the start of the year, new hatcheries have been launched in Brighton, Bristol and Leeds, while the venture has announced the opening of sites in Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast, Milton Keynes and Newcastle in 2016 and London in 2017, alongside a push into India.

Presenting the award, Sir Ewan Brown, chairman of SFE, said: “RBS is being recognised for the unique and highly successful partnership it has forged with Entrepreneurial Spark, ­giving real support and assistance to new businesses.

“This is a true example of diversification in financial services, giving support to entrepreneurs in practical terms when they need it most.”

He added: “All of our 2015 finalists are shining examples of the strength and success of the Scottish financial services industry and should be congratulated for the contribution they are making to customers, the industry and the wider economy.”

George Reid, head of financial services, Scotland and UK regions at EY, said: “This is the sixth year EY has sponsored the SFS Award, during which time we have seen great variety in the nominations.

“This diverse and accomplished alumni represents the very best of the sector in Scotland.”