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NatWest to double reach of UK’s largest free entrepreneur accelerator network

NatWest has announced plans to support 5,000 entrepreneurs through its comprehensive programme of free mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching developed for entrepreneurs who want to grow and scale their business.

The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator is the UK’s largest free business accelerator network and is capable of supporting 1,000 entrepreneurs simultaneously in its 12 hubs based throughout the country. The programme is in partnership with Dell EMC and Pinsent Masons who will also be offering entrepreneurs their expertise and advice.

To reach its target of supporting 5,000 entrepreneurs in 2018, NatWest has created two distinct growth and accelerate packages which focus on the key driver to success – the entrepreneur. The Acceleration programme is a 6 to 18 month programme for entrepreneurs with high growth businesses looking to scale up. Designed to ensure that these businesses get the best chance to succeed, entrepreneurs will receive free office space, free business advice and mentoring, bespoke coaching, and access to the bank’s networks and supply chains.

The Pre-Acceleration programme is an intensive, 12-week programme for up to 50 early stage start ups. Run simultaneously in each of our Hub cities, entrepreneurs benefit from an introductory immersion day, online learning materials, webinars, digital ‘nutshells’ and a celebratory awards event to conclude. This programme is complemented by a variety of events, run by the bank’s Business Growth Enablers as well as the bank’s local partners.

This digital-led Pre-Acceleration programme is a transferable and scalable proposition, allowing the bank to offer it in cities where there isn’t currently an Entrepreneur Accelerator hub.

The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator hubs are located in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes and Newcastle. Hubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow will be Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerators, while the Belfast hub will be known as the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator.

All of this support is provided to entrepreneurs fully funded with no strings attached. The bank doesn’t take equity or a stake in their businesses, and the entrepreneurs don’t need to be NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, or Ulster Bank customers.

NatWest is also launching four specialist FinTech accelerators based in its Bristol, Edinburgh, London and Manchester hubs. Underpinned by NatWest’s core Accelerator offering, up to 80 FinTech businesses will benefit from Dell EMC’s expertise through regular technology reviews and sales strategy analysis. Entrepreneurs will also be assigned a technology team mentor, have the opportunity to pitch to the bank’s Innovation Scouting Team and be introduced to key contacts at the Department for International Trade.

Earlier this month, NatWest announced that it had come to an agreement with Entrepreneurial Spark to transfer its network of 12 entrepreneur accelerator hubs to be 100% managed by the bank.

Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest, said:

“As the UK’s biggest supporter of small business, we understand that helping businesses succeed, not just through traditional lending but with full wraparound care, connectivity and know-how, is crucial if we want a strong economy.

“The comprehensive programme of mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching that we have developed over the past three years has revolutionised the way we support entrepreneurs, and is really working. By building on this success and bringing the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator network in-house, we can dramatically increase the number of entrepreneurs we’re able to support.

“We also want our staff to develop entrepreneurial mindsets to help them think differently and to problem solve in the same way business owners have to do on a daily basis. We have set ambitious targets for the bank’s unique 'Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs'-accredited Entrepreneurial Development Academy. To date, more than 6,000 people have volunteered and by the end of the year we anticipate over 8,500 employees will have joined the course, with a quarter of them achieving external accreditations.”

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