Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing to welcome 100 entrepreneurs and ten startup support organisations to the executive wing of its Scottish HQ following a year-long refit of the former symbol of big bank excess.
The bank splurged £350 million on the building to the west of Edinburgh under the reign of former chief executive Fred Goodwin and became a focal point for anger over lavish spending and opulent furnishings in the wake of the 2008 credit crunch.
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.
Sited next to the bank's new 'Open Experience' technology solutions centre, the Gogarburn building 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 bank has already opened nine Entrepreneurial Spark hatcheries in its regional offices across the UK, and promises to open four more over the next twelve months.
At Gogarburn, the accelerator hub will house the first intake of 100 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 £100,000.
"If there was ever a clear sign of our change as a bank, this is it," says RBS chief Ross McEwan. "This centre is hugely important to the bank and it is no accident that we have also moved it to the heart of our headquarters. It means we can focus more on innovation and build the future of banking with our partners from Scotland and around the world.
"It will also mean the entrepreneurs will have access to some of the best technology minds in the bank. For a start-up tech company this sort of access can take years to source so this partnership will help accelerate that process, help create jobs and help grow the economy."