NatWest makes plea to Scotland’s entrepreneurs as it gears up for record 2,500 accelerator intake

“The UK is home to some of the world’s most innovative start-ups, but it can be better at supporting ambitious businesses to grow” – Darren Pirie, head of NatWest Accelerator

Banking giant NatWest is set to welcome a bumper 2,500 entrepreneurs to its network of accelerators in September.

Aspiring business people looking to grow and scale their ventures are being urged to apply to join one of the accelerators, as the RBS owner prepares to welcome a record number of new businesses on its accelerator programme. Up to 2,500 places will be available for free to entrepreneurs.

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The bank’s accelerator programme has supported thousands of entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. NatWest operates 13 physical and one digital accelerator hub spread across the UK, in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Southampton and Warwick. The deadline for applications for the latest cohort of entrepreneurs is due to close on August 2.

The RBS headquarters and conference complex at Gogarburn, Edinburgh, which forms part of NatWest Group. Picture: Ian GeorgesonThe RBS headquarters and conference complex at Gogarburn, Edinburgh, which forms part of NatWest Group. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The RBS headquarters and conference complex at Gogarburn, Edinburgh, which forms part of NatWest Group. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Expert coaching, access to a “wide network of like-minded peers”, and a programme of thought leadership and events are provided by the programme, which is free for participating businesses, and entrepreneurs do not need to give up any equity to take part.

Darren Pirie, head of the NatWest Accelerator, said: “In today’s ever-changing business landscape, growth is a necessity. The UK is home to some of the world’s most innovative start-ups, but it can be better at supporting ambitious businesses to grow, which is where our expertise comes in.

“As the UK’s biggest bank for start-ups, we understand that helping businesses succeed, not just through traditional lending but with full wraparound support, is crucial if we want a strong economy. And that’s exactly what we do - in our accelerator hubs, we’ve seen a whole host of businesses secure investment, grow their teams and move into other markets.”

He added: “We’re offering a record number of places on our accelerator programme in September to help more ambitious businesses on their path to growth. Every member of the programme is given the best start possible with access to expert mentors, networking opportunities and modern office space.”

Former accelerator “alumni” include GoJoe, a social fitness app that enables workplaces and brands to connect and engage their people. Used by the likes of Amazon, British Gas and spirits giant Diageo, the app motivates employees through innovative team-based virtual challenges. The company raised in excess of £1 million in seed investment in 2022 and has just completed its latest funding round.

Phil Steele, co-founder of GoJoe, said: “When we started with the NatWest Accelerator we were little more than two guys and a PowerPoint. Thanks to the coaching, mentoring and support that we’ve received through the accelerator we have now completed two funding rounds which included professional athlete investment, created a product which is loved by the world’s best companies and assembled a team who will help us achieve our ambition of changing the way the world exercises.

“Quite simply, the programme really has ‘powered us up’, been our Sherpa and catalyst for growth. A no brainer for ambitious start-ups,” he added.

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