Royal Bank of Scotland today unveiled plans to open up its Edinburgh headquarters to create a centre for fledgling businesses.
The state-backed lender is to transform the former “executive wing” at its Gogarburn base into a site designed to “encourage entrepreneurialism and promote economic growth”.
The accelerator hub will house staff from organisations such as Business Gateway, Edinburgh Napier University and Prince’s Trust Scotland. It will also host an Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark) “hatchery” for early stage start-ups and a “nest” for high-growth, high-impact businesses.
Up to 80 entrepreneurs will be based at the hub, receiving free wi-fi and office space as well as access to RBS staff and business mentors.
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan 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. This marks a step change in how we can work with partners to support our local economy.”
Entrepreneurs will also have the chance to pitch to potential investors and compete for growth awards of up to £100,000.
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.
RBS is already collaborating with ESpark to launch eight accelerator hubs across the UK, the first of which opened in Birmingham last month.
ESpark chief executive Jim Duffy said: “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.
“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.”