The Royal Bank of Scotland is opening a new entrepreneurial centre at its Edinburgh headquarters with the ambition of making it the heart of Scottish enterprise.
Business experts and entrepreneurs are being brought together in the offices of disgraced former CEO Fred Goodwin.
The grand complex at Gogarburn near Edinburgh Airport was built to promote RBS as a major global bank.
After the bank’s near collapse in 2008 and rescue with £46 billion of taxpayers’ money, RBS has undergone a major review and restructuring.
Now the headquarters’ executive wing is being opened to key Scottish business organisations and entrepreneurs to encourage entrepreneurialism and promote economic growth.
The centre for entrepreneurs and innovation will bring together Scotland’s enterprise ecosystem to share knowledge and expertise and encourage collaboration to support fledgling businesses.
It will house staff from business organisations including Entrepreneurial Spark, Entrepreneurial Scotland, Business Gateway, Napier University, Scottish Edge, and The Princes Trust Scotland.
It will also be home to an Entrepreneurial Spark Business Accelerator Hub, including a hatchery for early stage start-ups and a nest for high-growth, high-impact businesses.
The accelerator hub will house up to 80 entrepreneurs who will be able to collaborate and network with enterprise support organisations and fellow entrepreneurs they sit alongside.
They will also have the opportunity to pitch to potential investors and compete for growth awards, and RBS employees will be encouraged to share their expertise and learn first hand more about start-up businesses’ challenges.
Mr McEwan said: “It is not just start-up businesses that need to be innovative and forward thinking to thrive and grow RBS needs to be as well.
“We are opening up our headquarters so that we can support Scottish businesses of tomorrow, not just with infrastructure but through the chance to collaborate with experts and other like-minded business owners.
“This marks a step change in how we can work with partners to support our local economy.” He added: “This programme reconnects our people with business and gets us back to focusing on customers, which is our mantra.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is about facilitating and enabling enterprise and entrepreneurialism.
“Everyone should have equal opportunity for entrepreneurial success, and this new centre will be home to organisations which work to give people that chance.”
* Errin Todd of Dalgety Bay spoke of the value of entrepreneurial support.
The world market in shellfish is worth upwards of $40 billion, but 15% is wasted in transportation.
Errin and marine biologist husband Keith developed the Lobster Pod as a more efficient way to transport fresh shellfish to customers.
It saves £12,500 per lorry load with a two months return on investment.
Giving the business her best shot for a year, she explained: “I met Alasdair Busby of Business Gateway, and he ‘got it’ straight away.”
At Entrepreneurial Spark, experts including Ann Gloag encouraged “self-belief, focus and a Go Do attitude”.
Winning £100,000 at the Scottish Edge final in December changed Errin’s life and will allow the Todds to hire 12 staff.
Working with one of Europe’s largest shellfish merchants on field trials, the Todds sold their first five Lobster Pods last month.
She added: “By working with partners in the Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem I am on track to achieve all of my global ambitions.”