A new centre for entrepreneurs is to be established in the executive wing of RBS’s £350 million headquarters at Gogarburn, in the bank’s latest drive to put its scandalous past behind it.
Now The wing, created on the orders of then chief executive Fred Goodwin during construction of the HQ in 2005, was the home of some of the worst decisions in financial history and came to be seen as a symbol of unfettered banking culture.
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.”Nicola Sturgeon
Now RBS has announced it will be transformed into a hive of innovation aimed at boosting economic growth and encouraging the business leaders of the future. A new Entrepreneurial Spark Business Accelerator Hub – complete with wifi and free office space – will focus on start-up companies and “high-growth, high-impact businesses”.
It is hoped the accelerator hub will eventually house up to 80 entrepreneurs, providing them with access to key RBS staff and business mentors – and bank chiefs said those vying for a place won’t need to be RBS or NatWest customers. RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said the move marked a “step change” in how the bank worked with partners to support the local economy.
He said: “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.
“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.”
Fred Goodwin – dubbed Fred the Shred after his habit of ruthlessly cutting costs – headed up RBS from 2001-9, overseeing the bank’s rapid rise and spectacular fall from grace following the economic crash.
He was stripped of his knighthood in 2012 amid criticisms of his leadership and the revelation he had drawn a pension worth almost £16m despite leaving the bank in disgrace.
Throughout his tenure aschief executive he attracted condemnation for his lavish spending, which included the £350m Gogarburn headquarters.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “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.”