NatWest’s Hardman Boulevard office in Manchester has opened its doors to a new Entrepreneurial Spark business accelerator hub, in partnership with KPMG. Eighty businesses beat stiff competition to secure a place in the first intake of entrepreneurs to take part in the programme, which is aimed at early stage and growing ventures.

Research launched today shows a quarter (23%) of people in the North West would like to start their own business, but over a third (37%) think it’s too risky, highlighting the need for the right early support for businesses. Worries over the business environment are also apparent, with a 7% fall in the number of people who think now is a good time to start a business (22%) compared to six months ago (29%). While many hope the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative will boost conditions, the data - compiled by Populus for NatWest – shows 75% of people in the North West  think it will only have impact if local businesses and entrepreneurs are supported.

Each intake of up to 80 startups will be based at the Hatchery for six months, with the most promising given the option to continue for another 12. Businesses are given free office facilities so they can concentrate on establishing and growing their business, as well as access to the bank’s networks and contacts, a start-up Bootcamp, dedicated mentoring from local KPMG advisors, regular events, workshops and training.

Entrepreneurial Spark’s focus on developing entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviours has marked it out from other start-up and scale-up support organisations.  The Manchester Hatchery is part of a network of hubs being created across the UK – 13 in total by 2017 – which will support around 7,000 entrepreneurs over the next five years.

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

“Six months ago we found that a lack of knowledge was holding people in the North West back from starting a business. The region is highly entrepreneurial, but with over a third of people in our latest research too worried about the risk, it’s really clear that the right support could make a big difference to would-be entrepreneurs. We’re providing the basics you need to run a business, such as office space, Wi-Fi and phones, as well as access to our people and networks. This will let entrepreneurs concentrate on establishing and growing, while giving them the guidance to do so.”

Jim Duffy, CEO, Entrepreneurial Spark said:

“We’re really excited to be in Manchester, a city really going places and one with a great culture and attitude.  At Entrepreneurial Spark we take the barriers away from entrepreneurship and work with individuals to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. We’re delighted to be working with NatWest and KPMG in Manchester to create a fantastic Hatchery for the city’s entrepreneurs to really accelerate their business. If you are a Manchester entrepreneur interested in joining us we are accepting applications now for our August intake.”

Jonathan Boyers, Corporate Finance Partner, KPMG Enterprise, said:

“Manchester has long had a culture of go-getting creativity and entrepreneurialism right at its very heart, and with our thriving tech and digital scene going great guns, the city’s reputation as a fantastic place to start a business will only increase further.

“However, growing and scaling up a business can sometimes be a daunting and even lonely experience, and business owners often tell us that they are crying out for more support. This is why the launch of this new hatchery is so vital. With the advice and guidance provided by Entrepreneurial Spark, KPMG and NatWest, we can help the big businesses of tomorrow grow and prosper.”

Entrepreneurial Spark, the world’s largest free business accelerator, has a vision to create a business start-up revival throughout the UK, through the development of entrepreneurial mind-sets and behaviours to enable acceleration and growth.

The social enterprise has developed an exclusive ‘entrepreneurial enablement’ programme that takes entrepreneurs through a cognitive and action centred development process.  It welcomes applications from businesses at all stages and from all sectors who want to grow, scale and succeed.

Applications are now open for the Manchester Hatchery’s second intake of entrepreneurs, who will start the programme in August 2016. To apply for Entrepreneurial Spark visit: http://www.entrepreneurial-spark.com/.

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