We’ve left the biggest til last, says Entrepreneurial Spark as it opens its London hub, following the establishment of a dozen others around the UK. The new Angel hub is double the size of any other, but it retains the same aim – to “create entrepreneurs who have a positive impact on society”.
Entrepreneurial Spark, the world’s largest free accelerator for startups and early-stage ventures, finally has a London base. The new hub, in Islington, is located at NatWest’s former cash-counting facility right by Angel tube. The space formally opens its doors on August 10, after two years of planning.
With 138 desks and capacity for 100 businesses, the new Angel hub will be double the size of any other Entrepreneurial Spark space. It will be the thirteenth hub – making eight in England, three in Scotland and one each in Northern Ireland and Wales.
Entrepreneurial Spark was founded in 2012 in Glasgow, set up by entrepreneurs Jim Duffy and Brian McGuire with City Refrigeration founder Sir Willie Haughey. It is a not-for-profit social enterprise. Among those to have come through the programme are Flexiworkforce and Alphabet Babies.
More than 100 entrepreneurs will attend the Angel hub’s kick-off bootcamp event in August – the organisation’s biggest to date – as a first cohort of entrepreneurs assembles in the capital.
As well as free desk space and mentoring, Entrepreneurial Spark employs ‘enablers’ who work closely with businesses to help them grow and access local business networks, through “connectivity and know-how”.
Applications for the first spaces at Angel have now closed, but Entepreneurial Spark is accepting expressions of interest via website. Demand for spaces in the new London hub was sure to be high, especially given the high cost of desk space elsewhere in the capital compared to the rest of the country.
Entrepreneurial Spark champions the UK’s entrepreneurs by providing access to “bespoke programmes for every stage of business and every type of entrepreneur”. It supports businesses at each stage of their development through four ‘growth mind-set-focused’ programmes:
- Sprint – three months – entry-level, fast-paced programme for early-stage ventures
- Enable – six months – programme to help businesses validate and accelerate
- Grow– six months – to help businesses turning over £100K+ to grow
- Scale – six months – for businesses turning over £200K pa or with £150K funding but needing more investment.
The Entrepreneurial Spark initiative is powered by NatWest Business, the UK’s biggest business banker, alongside partners KPMG Enterprise, Dell Technologies and Pinsent Masons.
To date, the programme has enabled over 2,000 Entrepreneurial Spark businesses to start, grow and scale, has turned over £176 million and created more than 3,000 jobs. One in three businesses is tech.
Entrepreneurial Spark chief executive Lucy-Rose Walker said: “We are committed to leading the entrepreneurial revolution. So to be able to plant our flag in London, at the heart of the world’s greatest business ecosystem, with the chance to shake things up there, is really exciting. We’ve left the biggest until last as the sheer scale of the opportunity in the capital is so vast.
“Our four bespoke mindset-focused programmes make sure that every entrepreneur, from the kitchen table pioneer to the scale-up superstar, can grow and exceed their potential. To have the chance to do that in the heart of London, in Angel, with so many entrepreneurs is amazing.”
NatWest head of entrepreneurship Gordon Merrylees said the development of the Entrepreneurial Spark network had boosted collaboration, including with people working at the bank. “Enthusiasm has proven infectious and the number of people at NatWest that want to get involved has been overwhelming,” he said, adding that more than 5,000 staff had been through an entrepreneurial development academy as a result.
“This is a game changer for NatWest,” added Merrylees. “It is allowing us to develop tomorrow’s capabilities that will see us thrive in an increasingly innovative and disruptive way in a digital and mobile world while also continuing to serve our customers.”
The bank’s Angel building, Regent House (pictured) is also home to the new RocketSpace scale-up campus, which opened last month.
Entrepreneurial Spark also works with entrepreneurs in India, as well as through virtual programmes in the Scottish Highlands and Islands and, most recently, Portsmouth.