Launch of UK startup accelerator programme for entrepreneurs


Launch of UK startup accelerator programme for entrepreneurs

RBS has joined forces with MassChallenge to launch a programme for entrepreneurs in London. MassChallenge provides intensive support to start-ups to help them grow quickly.

Supporting new companies with funding, mentoring, training and networking events

The programme, which has been welcomed by the UK Government and Mayor of London, is the first full international programme to be launched by MassChallenge in the UK.

Startup accelerators

Startup accelerators are organisations that support fledging companies with funding, mentoring, training and networking events. However unlike most startup accelerators, which provide support in return for an equity stake in the new business, MassChallenge is a not-for-profit organisation and takes no equity from the startups it is helping.

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, MassChallenge runs an annual growth programme for startup companies that awards more than $1m in grants and provides 128 early-stage entrepreneurs with mentoring and training, free office space, access to additional funding, legal advice, media attention and in-kind benefit worth more than $10m.

In London, MassChallenge UK will run its programme for 60 to 100 fledgling businesses, from all industries and all around the world, supported by a competition that will award around £600k to winning startups.

Benefits for the UK

MassChallenge hosted a roundtable with senior UK business leaders at 10 Downing Street this week to ensure its London programme will best meet the needs of the UK economy. The organisation aims to benefit the UK by fostering intensive economic development in key sectors, strengthening existing networks and partnerships, and enhancing the UK’s position as an international leader in innovation.

John Harthorne, Founder and CEO, MassChallenge, said: “As a global hub, London already boasts world-class talent, resources and connectivity, and we have been very impressed by the energy and potential of the London innovation ecosystem.

“With support from the innovation communities in Boston and Israel, MassChallenge has developed a massively productive model to coordinate and amplify innovation activity. Together with existing innovation organisations and leaders in the UK, we are confident we can firmly establish London as the dominant center of global innovation activity, and that we will create an enormously positive impact on the UK, Europe, and the world.”

Inspiring startups

RBS, which is the largest bank to SMEs in the UK, supporting over 1.2 million customers, will provide mentoring and financial guidance to the participating entrepreneurs.

Chris Sullivan, Chief Executive, RBS Corporate Banking Division, said: "RBS is pleased to be working with MassChallenge to help inspire the next generation of start-ups in London and across the UK. Developing and supporting the environment for successful entrepreneurship is a fundamental element of the current and future strategy of RBS as we seek to play our full part in helping businesses in Britain succeed."

The MassChallenge programme is expected to launch in December 2014. In the interim, MassChallenge will run a number of events to support the startup community while continuing to expand its pool of partners and securing office space within London to house the massive accelerator.

Welcome move

Matthew Hancock, Skills and Enterprise Minister, said that it was great news that MassChallenge had chosen London as a venue for its new international start-up accelerator.

“Last year saw a record-breaking number of businesses start up across the country and it's encouraging that organisations like this support our drive to help make it easier for businesses to grow, create jobs and compete in the global race. Attracting innovative investment is a crucial part of our long term economic plan,” he said.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, added: “It is testament to our city’s reputation for great talent that MassChallenge has chosen London as the location for their first full-scale international project.

“They will thrive on the entrepreneurial spirit found in our great city, and I expect their programme to spur the creation of many innovative and exciting new companies whose work will be of huge benefit to our economy.”

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