The free programme is open to applications from all UK SMEs from today, for businesses who will join the programme in June.
Throughout its network of accelerator hubs across the UK, NatWest will support over 1,400 businesses at different stages of growth through the programme, with a particular focus on scale ups - businesses that grow their turnover or employment by more than 20% each year. NatWest now also commits at least 25% of space on the programme to climate-focussed businesses whose main objective relates to environmentally sustainable practices, building on its sponsorship of the forthcoming UN COP26 climate summit, to be held in Glasgow in November.
The relaunch follows recent findings from the bank’s report into SME recovery in the UK, which found that transforming a greater proportion of SMEs into ‘scale-ups’, and driving a shift towards sustainability were two priorities which, if addressed, could help unlock £140bn of economic growth by 2030.
In addition, the bank has created 50 roles based around the country to ensure these businesses are given appropriate, tailored support. The new Local Enterprise Managers, Regional Ecosystem Managers and Entrepreneur Acceleration Managers will give businesses the guidance they need through expertise, coaching and networks that are relevant to their location and sector.
Andrew Harrison, Head of Business Banking and Entrepreneurship, NatWest said: “The findings of our recent Springboard to Recovery report showed that scale-ups will be crucial to UK economic recovery post Covid-19. Scale-ups are 50% more productive than other SMEs, but at present only 2.5% of all businesses fall into the scale-up category. That’s why we’re relaunching our Enterprise programme to help more SMEs reach this next level of growth and productivity.
Combined with increased representation and support for female and BAME led businesses throughout our new cohort – which we aim to ensure are at least 60% and 20% respectively – and a focus on businesses with sustainability and purpose at their core, we’re excited to be opening our doors again to support the next generation of business success stories.”
During the pandemic, the bank moved its Enterprise programme to a virtual model, offering coaching sessions, virtual events, and specialised 1-1 support to entrepreneurs who would normally be based in the physical accelerator hubs. Over the course of this year, the bank aims to support those on the programme through a blended model, resuming use of its hubs once coronavirus guidelines allow, in conjunction with virtual aspects of the programme that have proved most valuable to entrepreneurs over the last year.
As well as the Accelerator programme, as part of its wider Enterprise programme the bank offers its Business Builder programme, a digital qualification offered to early stage start-ups; and Dream Bigger, an education programme aimed at 16-18 year olds, encouraging them to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice.
NatWest is committing to supporting 35,000 entrepreneurs through its Enterprise programmes in 2021, and a further 200,000 interventions with future entrepreneurs through mentoring, webinars and coaching. To date, the bank’s initiatives have created nearly 1,300 jobs and contributed in excess of £103million to the UK economy - with nearly half of all businesses supported since launch female led.
Interested businesses can apply to join the June cohort at the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator site.
Eligibility – businesses applying for a place on the Accelerator programme need to be new or existing customers of NatWest Group. Dream Bigger and Business Builder are open to all UK businesses regardless of banking relationship.