Entrepreneur '˜hatchery' opens at RBS head office

THE former 'executive wing' at Royal Bank of Scotland's headquarters has formally opened its doors to an initiative aimed at supporting fledgling firms.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, left, with ESpark boss Jim Duffy. Picture: Robert Perry

State-backed RBS has teamed up with Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark) to create the free business accelerator hub, or “hatchery”, in its building that once housed the plush offices of former chief executive Fred Goodwin.

The opening came as a report published by ESpark showed that 88 per cent of start-ups and early-stage entrepreneurs who have been through its programme are still trading.

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Since its launch in 2011, the organisation has supported 660 businesses, which last year generated a combined turnover of almost £86 million, up from £40m in 2014. The fledgling companies have also attracted more than £45m of investment – compared with £18m the previous year – and created 1,816 jobs.

ESpark chief executive Jim Duffy said: “Entrepreneurial Spark powered by RBS wants to be one of the top world-class business accelerators. Our vision is to inspire and enable positive social change through the action of entrepreneuring, creating jobs and value in the economy.

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“To now have our Edinburgh hatchery at the heart of RBS’ global HQ is incredible and is a real statement from the bank and one they should be applauded for.”

He added: “With our application window open now across all UK hatcheries for August entry, we can’t wait to work with RBS to create an inspiring place from which entrepreneurs can scale their businesses.”

ESpark is joined in the former executive wing by other organisations including Entrepreneurial Scotland, Business Gateway, Edinburgh Napier University, Scottish Edge and The Princes Trust Scotland.

Alison Rose, chief executive of commercial and private banking at RBS, said: “It’s really exciting. There’s something really symbolic about having the hatchery here in our headquarters.

“We recently opened the Manchester hub and they just get better and better.

“It’s fantastic seeing the programme roll put across the UK.”

She added: “We are determined to support entrepreneurs and the impact they make in driving the economy. This is why we have created an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will give start-ups the best chance, by taking away concerns about things like office facilities and letting them concentrate on their business.

“But we also want our staff to become more entrepreneurial, and by putting the new hatchery at the heart of our Edinburgh HQ we want them to learn from the entrepreneurs and start thinking like them.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The opening of the Gogarburn hub is a clear indication of RBS’s continued commitment to Scotland and I welcome that.

“By giving budding entrepreneurs and ambitious companies a dedicated centre to develop an idea, RBS is providing them with a solid foundation to start from and hopefully play their part in building on Scotland’s economic success.”