Enterprise | RBS


Starting a business is tough. And connections, networks, expertise and specialist knowledge are sometimes even more important than access to finance.

So we’re putting our customers first. We’re going beyond being a provider of financial services. We’re giving business owners the resources and support they need to make their enterprises a success. 

Supporting entrepreneurship


Our Entrepreneurship initiatives are setting us up to be the bank of choice for entrepreneurs. Our innovative programmes serve our customers well by supporting their ambitions to start up, grow and scale their business by sharing our connectivity, reach and expertise to provide value for our customers. 

Entrepreneurial Spark partnership 

Entrepreneurial Spark partners with NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank to deliver a UK wide business accelerator programme. It takes ambitious entrepreneurs from start up through their growth cycle and onto their scale up journey.


We offer free workspaces, support, mentoring, funding clinics, bespoke workshops and access to a world class entrepreneurial community.


In 2016, we opened our Entrepreneurial Spark hub in our HQ in Gogarburn in Edinburgh. And we opened five more free ‘business accelerator hubs’, bringing our total to 12.   


2016 highlights:


◦  85% of companies that have used our programme are still trading today.


◦  Supported over 1,736 businesses, creating 3,152 jobs.*

◦  Companies who’ve used the hub have a total turnover of £176 million.

◦  We’ve secured £151 million of investment for Entrepreneurial Spark businesses.

◦  We have over 3,400 RBS staff in training with the Entrepreneurial Development Academy.

◦  In Inverness, we’ve completed our first successful pilot of a virtual acceleration programme which gives us the opportunity to support greater numbers of entrepreneurs across the UK.

* Data is compiled by Entrepreneurial Spark. The data includes all business who have been part of the programme since launch in 2012.



Scottish EDGE Fund 

Through competitions, EDGE finds innovative entrepreneurs with high-growth potential and awards them grants of up to £150,000.


We’re one of the key partners, along with the Scottish Government and the Hunter Foundation. The Fund’s office is at our Gogarburn HQ.


Since it started four years ago, EDGE has:


◦  supported 230 individual businesses and awarded across the 9 completed rounds and within 4 different categories

◦  awarded £8.3m (£6.5m to Scottish EDGE winners, £850,000 to Higgs winners, £520,000 to Young EDGE and £400,000 to Wild Card EDGE)

◦  created 810 jobs

◦  generated £45.06 million of additional turnover

◦  secured £41.8 million of additional investment



Innovation Gateway 

The Innovation Gateway partnered with 2degrees in 2014 to offer SMEs, innovators and inventors the opportunity to test their ideas within part of our UK portfolio of about 2,000 retail and office buildings. They are testing pioneering ideas to improve efficiency in energy and water use, waste and also engagement with colleagues. These SMEs are supported to find a clear route to market while RBS benefits from testing a range of solutions to reduce our impact on the environment.


2016 highlights:


◦  Grown our crowdsourcing community to 1,300

◦  Tested 34 products at RBS facilities since 2014

◦  Formed the Gateway Partnership with 2degrees Carillion, Heathrow Airport, Lancaster University and Cambridge University



RBS formed the Gateway Partnership to find and test eco-innovations across our estates. We give our innovators the chance to trial their products, build their network of contacts and share their progress with the Gateway Partners. 



Being the bank of choice for business

We have listened to our business customers and understand more about the services they need and want to help them become successful.  


Helping businesses grow with Boost 

We launched Boost in April 2016. With this programme, we offer free advice and expertise to small businesses – regardless of whether they bank with us or not.


We based it on our recent Enterprise Monitor, which showed that:


◦  only 38% of small business owners know where to go to for advice
◦  only 33% have proper networks of useful advisors


We set up a team of 73 ‘Business Growth Enablers’. They use their large networks of experts in specific industries (and regions) to provide training at organised events and provide mentoring and support to small businesses.


In 2016, our Business Growth Enablers:
◦  ran almost 2,000 local events in conjunction with our partners, attended by an estimated 60,000 small businesses whether they banked with us or not
◦  went to 4,500 networking events


We’re also giving 18 months of free banking for small businesses, as well as support from our Business Growth Enablers.



How we help women in business 

Currently only 20% of businesses in the UK are female led. Supporting more women into Enterprise is pivotal in growing our economy, creating jobs, wealth and confidence. We are working with women from all backgrounds throughout the UK to give them the same chances as their male counterparts.


In 2016:


◦  We now have over 400 independently accredited ‘Women in Business Specialists’, giving mentoring and financial advice to female entrepreneurs. No other bank has this.
◦  NatWest sponsors the Everywoman Awards for female entrepreneurs and the 2016 Asian Women of Achievement Awards.
◦  NatWest ran 10 events in partnership with the National Black Women’s Network, supporting black and ethnic minority women starting new businesses.



Supporting charities and social enterprises

Supporting charities and social enterprises to make a difference in their communities is an important part of what we do and is important to us and our customers.


The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme 

In 2016, we celebrated 40 years of supporting The Prince’s Trust.


We work together to provide startup help to 18-30 year olds who are unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a week. They can access pre-start advice on business plans, finance, marketing and sustainability, get funding to help start their business, and access mentoring support to help them through their first years.


2016 highlights:
◦  We donated over £1 million – part of a £3 million pledge over 3 years
◦  Our colleagues and customers fundraised and gave over £525,000
◦  Over 420 RBS colleagues volunteered with The Trust, using their skills to deliver workshops, provide business mentoring or other support
◦  Our partnership directly supported over 700 young people take part in The Enterprise programme and over 1,800 through our volunteering efforts. 



Skills & Opportunities Fund

Launched in May 2015, the Skills & Opportunities Fund offers £2.5 million each year to non-profit organisations across the UK & Ireland.  We are continuing to make a difference in local communities by supporting projects which help people in disadvantaged communities gain financial capability skills and/or to start or develop a new business, now or in the future.


In 2016:
◦  We received 1,714 applications from organisations across the UK and Ireland.
◦  We supported 125 organisations, of which 96 won grants of up to £35,000 each.*
◦  We estimate we’ve helped 37,320 people and created 370 jobs.


*Data is compiled by Project North East (PNE). The data is based on the total spend allocated by each Regional Board.


Social enterprise

Support enterprises with a social purpose helps to promote social and economic value in the communities in which we operate.


The Glasgow Bike Station is an example of a social enterprise and charity that helps people get affordable, good quality bikes, while keeping tonnes of waste from landfill.


Their Bike Station Academy will help people who’ve dropped out of school, and offers young people vocational qualifications in bike mechanics, helping them set up their own bike hubs for their schools and communities.


RBS continued to support social enterprises in 2016.

◦  Announced the next phase of the NatWest SE100 Social Business Club offering a package of business support plus a programme of free events and magazine.


Find out more about the partnership


◦  Increased support to social enterprises through its charity Social & Community Capital which lends to social enterprises that have difficulty accessing mainstream bank finance.





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