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What does Royal Bank of Scotland offer start-ups?

Bringing entrepreneurship to the heart of banking

25 European Corporate Startup Stars reveals which large companies are doing the most to support new firms. These case studies highlight some specific examples of active and successful collaboration between corporates and start-ups.

A good example of…

Rejuvenating corporate culture

European Headquarters: Edinburgh, UK

Geographical reach: UK

Sector of interest: All sectors

Works with start-ups through:

  • A network of accelerator programmes, Entrepreneurial Spark
  • An internal entrepreneurship programme, the Entrepreneurial Development Academy
  • Dedicated staff to bridge the start-up-corporate divide
  • Targeted support for women in business and young people
  • Connections with 20 industry bodies and 10 venture capital companies, and relationships with other large technology providers (such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook)


Why does the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) work with start-ups?

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) works with start-ups in order to support businesses in the UK. As well as financial solutions, it provides skills, expertise, access to networks and opportunities to build relationships.

How does the RBS work with start-ups?

RBS helps foster entrepreneurship externally and within its organisation. It works extensively with start-ups, most visibly through a partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark to create the world’s largest network of free business accelerators. RBS is also committed to teaching its employees entrepreneurial skills, through its unique people accelerator: the Entrepreneurial Development Academy.

A connected approach to entrepreneurship enables RBS to support entrepreneurs at all stages. In particular, RBS targets women in business and fosters the talent of young people. With start-ups operating both as customers, suppliers and innovative partners, the bank’s various strands of work are brought together through its commitment to supporting business growth.

What has RBS done to facilitate collaboration with start-ups?

One of the main ways RBS brings start-ups into its organisation is through its partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark, which covers all sectors and is free to use.

Housed in the RBS offices, in over nine locations (with more planned), the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerators each attract 80 entrepreneurs every six months. These entrepreneurs are then given access to office space, Wi-Fi, meeting rooms and a programme of tailored business support. They also have the chance to win cash prizes through the Entrepreneurial Spark Acceler8 awards which RBS funds as well as other corporate partners.

Start-ups are supported across RBS, and in 2015, staff members contributed over 6,000 hours of time to nearly 70,000 entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial development managers and regional enterprise managers also act as a bridge between external entrepreneurs and RBS, and utilise their networks and expertise to facilitate strong collaborations.

Success story: This Mum Runs

Mel Bound founded This Mum Runs, a fast-growing women's running community. Launched in October 2014, it has encouraged more than 4,500 mums in the Bristol, Bath and Keynsham areas to run regularly by making the activity fun, social, convenient and accessible.

Mel applied to Entrepreneurial Spark and was accepted into the Bristol hub. Since then she has had support to drive the business forward and won prize money at the Acceler8 Awards.

Mel has also been successfully profiled within RBS and recently launched a successful crowdfunding campaign, which the bank helped promote on social media, to raise money for the next stage of the business’s growth.

RBS has been able to go above and beyond what is expected of a bank in supporting a customer.

“RBS is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship in and out of the company. There is a great focus on stimulating entrepreneurship from the perspective of serving ‘customers’ and ‘suppliers’, as well as an exemplary sub-focus on women and youth entrepreneurs.”

Bart Clarysse, Corporate Startup Stars judge

What can other corporates learn from RBS about working with start-ups?

  • A partnership with an external accelerator can be an effective way for a corporate to engage with startups.
  • Investing in a dedicated programme that supports an entrepreneurial culture within a corporation – such as the Entrepreneurial Development Academy – helps to reduce the cultural distance between startups and a corporate’s employees
  • Dedicated staff can act as a bridge between startups and a corporation, and use their networks and expertise to facilitate strong collaborations.

What is RBS looking for from the start-ups it works with?

RBS is looking for ambitious startups with a willingness to scale, learn and engage with the support on offer. The company supports startups from across the UK in any sector and of any size.

How can start-ups get involved with RBS?

Start-ups can find out more and apply to Entrepreneurial Spark via the website.

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Image courtesy of SVC2UK CEO Summit 2015.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644104.


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Showing 1 comment

  1. “Why does the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) work with start-ups?” – because some of them might one day turn out to be the next Facebook or Google. Besides Funding Circle is quite a reliable partner when it comes to start-up projects selection and funding.