Government-owned lender RBS has found a novel use for its former 'executive wing' at its Scottish HQ, transforming the space into a startup accelerator for entrepreneurs and innovation.
The executive wing at the bank's HQ to the west of Edinburgh became a symbol for bank excess during the 2008 credit crunch. The bank splurged £350 million on the building under the reign of former chief executive Fred Goodwin and became a focal point for anger over lavish spending and opulent furnishings.
In its new role, the centre will house staff from business organisations: Entrepreneurial Spark; Entrepreneurial Scotland; Business Gateway; Napier University; Scottish Edge; The Princes Trust Scotland; The Lens (Scotland's social EDGE Fund); Big Noodle; Bright Red Triangle; and We are the Future.
It will also be home to an Entrepreneurial Spark Business Accelerator Hub, including a ‘Hatchery’ for early stage start-ups and a ‘Nest’ for high growth, high impact businesses.
The accelerator hub will house up 80 entrepreneurs, who will receive free office space and WiFi as well as access to specially trained RBS staff and business mentors. RBS employees will also be encouraged to collaborate and network with business owners located in the centre, not just to share their expertise, but to help staff learn first hand more about the challenges faced by start-up businesses.
Entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to pitch to potential investors and compete for growth awards of up to £100,000t. Applicants for the accelerator hub will be welcomed from any sector and do not need to be RBS or NatWest customers.
Ross McEwan, chief executive of RBS, says: “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.”
RBS recently appointed Gordon Merrylees as head of entrepreneurship RBS and NatWest, and is launching eight new Business Accelerator Hubs with Entrepreneurial Spark in the UK, the first of which opened in Birmingham last month.