RBS hatches new entrepreneurial centre in Edinburgh
A new entrepreneurial centre has been hatched at Royal Bank of Scotland's global headquarters in Edinburgh.
The Entrepreneurial Spark business accelerator hub, or "hatchery", will offer free office facilities for up to 80 businesses every six months.
Participants will be able to collaborate with support organisations, as well as RBS staff.
The centre is based in what was the executive wing of disgraced former RBS chief executive Fred Goodwin.
Entrepreneurial Spark is being joined at the hub by other Scottish business organisations, including Entrepreneurial Scotland, Business Gateway, Napier University, Scottish Edge and The Princes Trust Scotland.
Start-ups in the hatchery will be based next to the bank's new centre of innovation, Open Experience, where experts are designing and testing new banking technologies.
RBS described the new venture as "an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation".
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan told BBC Scotland: "My view is if you don't get small businesses growing, Scotland won't grow and the UK won't grow."
Alison Rose, chief executive of commercial and private banking at RBS, said: "We are determined to support entrepreneurs and the impact they make in driving the economy.
"This is why we have created an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will give start-ups the best chance, by taking away concerns about things like office facilities and letting them concentrate on their business.
"But we also want our staff to become more entrepreneurial, and by putting the new hatchery at the heart of our Edinburgh HQ we want them to learn from the entrepreneurs and start thinking like them.
"This way they can understand our customers better and also help improve the culture of the bank."
Speaking at the launch of the hub, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "By giving budding entrepreneurs and ambitious companies a dedicated centre to develop an idea, RBS is providing them with a solid foundation to start from and hopefully play their part in building on Scotland's economic success."
According to Entrepreneurial Spark, 88% of start-ups and early-stage entrepreneurs who have been through its enablement programme since it was founded in 2011 are still trading today.
Its latest impact report estimates that the 660 businesses it has supported have had an aggregate turnover of nearly £86m, attracted more than £45m of investment and created more than 1,800 jobs.
Entrepreneurial Spark chief executive Jim Duffy said: "Our vision is to inspire and enable positive social change through the action of entrepreneuring, creating jobs and value in the economy.
"To now have our Edinburgh hatchery at the heart of RBS' global HQ is incredible and is a real statement from the bank and one they should be applauded for."