NatWest Opens First Birmingham Hub
NatWest and Entrepreneurial Spark have opened the first of eight new business accelerator hubs in the heart of Birmingham as part of a multi-million pound support package for entrepreneurs across the UK.
The hub is housed in the main NatWest office at St Philip’s Place in the city centre. It will be home to 80 entrepreneurs who will each receive free office space, business support, expertise and advice for the next 6 to 18 months.
Last year, NatWest and RBS announced their support for thousands of entrepreneurs and high growth businesses with a multi million pound network of eight new business accelerator hubs. Over 250 businesses applied to be part of the first hub in Birmingham with 80 successful businesses selected through a competitive application process and the hub will now have two intakes every year.
The launch follows a bootcamp in which all the entrepreneurs took part before starting their programme. The launch event was attended by RBS CEO Ross McEwan, RBS Commercial and Private Banking CEO Alison Rose; CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark Jim Duffy and CEO of Birmingham City Council Mark Rogers, as well as many of the entrepreneurs involved. The launch concluded with a pitch event where the top 5 from the hub’s bootcamp pitched their business for a £1k prize. The winner was Virtalent, a service company that matches busy entrepreneurs and professionals with a talented UK university student, who will act as their Virtual Assistant.
Entrepreneurs will have access to the hub for up to 18 months uniting them with fellow entrepreneurs, specially trained NatWest staff and experienced, aspirational business mentors. They will also have the opportunity to pitch to potential investors. Growth awards of up to £50,000 will also be introduced and will offer cash injections when businesses need it most.
NatWest is looking to situate hubs in the bank’s existing premises wherever possible. Building on the Entrepreneurial Spark model, which has already proved hugely successful in Scotland, applicants will be welcomed from any sector and do not need to be NatWest or RBS customers. The next two hubs will be in Bristol and Leeds and will be opening in the summer.