The multi-million pound project was announced back in October, designed to support Britain’s entrepreneurs and their endeavours.
The first of the eight hubs to open nationwide had its doors opened on Monday 9 February, based at NatWest’s office at St Philip’s Place in Birmingham’s city centre. It will play home to 80 entrepreneurs – 250 companies applied for access to the Birmingham base – who will secure office space, wi-fi, support and advice for free over the next six to 18 months.
Alison Rose, CEO of commercial and private banking at RBS, said: “This is a step-change in how NatWest supports entrepreneurial talent and by opening up our premises here in St Philip’s Place we are backing the businesses of tomorrow and helping ambitious entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.
“This is good for them, good for us and ultimately good for the economy here in the Midlands. We have a trusted partner in Entrepreneurial Spark and together we can really make a difference to those businesses at the start of their journey.”
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A graduation event will be held at the end of the six-month scheme, gathering business builders, investors and advisers for networking and mentoring, while rewards, cash and growth awards of up to £50,000 will be given to high-performing companies.
A bootcamp took place before the grand opening, and the launch will include a pitch where the top five companies will have the opportunity to win a £1,000 prize. Bristol and Leeds will be the destinations for the next hubs.
Jim Duffy, CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark, said: “Our tried and tested accelerator programme has already had a significant impact on the startup community in Scotland, helping 350 businesses to create over 1,000 jobs and £41million in turnover to date.
“Birmingham has been found in a number of pieces of research to be the most entrepreneurial city in the UK, so it’s a fitting place for our first hub in England. Our message to entrepreneurs is work hard, focus and ‘Go Do’ to achieve the business success of your dreams.”
Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “The city is quickly establishing itself as the UK’s capital of enterprise. More companies than ever – from SMEs to global brands – are locating here. By offering a large talent pool, dynamic business networks and established city infrastructure, Birmingham welcomed more new businesses than any other regional UK city last year. With this new hub now available to help local entrepreneurs, the city’s thriving business community is set to grow even further.”
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