Entrepreneurial Spark® and NatWest launch first business accelerator hub in Birmingham

Entrepreneurial Spark® powered by NatWest, launched the first of eight accelerator hubs in Birmingham on Monday 9 February, following a ‘bootcamp’ consisting of c. 80 entrepreneurs the previous week.

After their induction on Monday morning, all of the entrepreneurs hit the ground running, working collaboratively and taking advantage of the stimulating environment and the facilities being provided as part of the programme. On day one, budding entrepreneurs were learning from each other, the accelerator was buzzing and full of life, the enthusiasm and positivity demonstrated naturally inspired confidence in their future success.

Ross McEwan, Group Chief Executive and Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking, joined Andrew Harrison, MD, Midlands and East of England, RBS, to welcome Jim Duffy, Chief Executive, Entrepreneurial Spark® and the entrepreneurs to their first accelerator hub.

After Andrew Harrison’s introduction and welcome to the launch, Jim Duffy took the stage, the driving force behind Entrepreneurial Spark®. Jim delivered a thought provoking and at times quite humorous speech, sharing Entrepreneurial Spark®’s mantra Re-Imagine, GoDo, Re-Shape, Re-Imagine, GoDo, Re-Shape.

Jim Duffy, CEO, Entrepreneurial Spark® said: “Our job is to build entrepreneurial leaders, who are smart thinkers, they’re results oriented, and they are ready with a growth mindset and that growth mindset is what the 80 businesses coming into this accelerator are going to undergo as a process over the next six months.”

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Before introducing Mark Rogers, CEO, Birmingham City Council, Jim Duffy said: “Birmingham really does have an appetite for entrepreneuring. Entrepreneurial Spark® is a collaboration of people, it’s public and private, it’s all sorts of people that come together to make us what we are, we don’t exist without all the support that we get.”

Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking, RBS, said: “Entrepreneurial Spark® businesses have achieved a 3 year survival rate of around 83% and they’ve created over 1000 jobs. That 83% survival rate after 3 years is an absolutely incredible success rate, the average is around 40 or 50%, so Entrepreneurial Spark is making a real difference and is proving its success in helping businesses survive and go on and be sustainable and be real contributing members. I think that is down to Jim and his team and the really fantastic work they have done.”

Towards the end of the launch the top five entrepreneurs from the ‘bootcamp’ had the opportunity to pitch for a £1,000 prize. The five 60 second pitches made by Medstars, Painty, The Baking Housewife, Virtalent and Happywrap were all excellent, they all did an incredible job and it was very difficult to judge. 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.

The closing speech delivered by Ross McEwan, Group Chief Executive, RBS was very powerful. He states that it wasn’t about the money, that it was about getting the UK working again, getting businesses going again.

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Ross McEwan, said: “In a way the great thing about this for RBS and NatWest is that we’re helping businesses from the very beginning to grow, and that is the most important thing for us. I know that this will be a major success.”

The commitment and depth of support of this accelerator programme was evident with the number of captains of industry, champions and business leaders from across Birmingham attending the launch. Even Lord Digby Jones found the time to join the 130 plus guests at this exciting starting point to Entrepreneurial Spark’s own business growth journey.

Applications for the next Birmingham intake in August will open soon.

By UKBAA 10 Feb 2015