U.K. bank NatWest Group, which shifted its accelerator program to a virtual model in response to the pandemic, is restoring the network of incubators for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in a hybrid setup, according to a press release.
In its new iteration, the program will focus especially on SMBs considered poised to grow quickly and focused on addressing climate change, the release stated.
“The findings of our recent Springboard to Recovery report showed that scale-ups will be crucial to U.K. economic recovery post COVID-19,” said NatWest’s Andrew Harrison, head of Business Banking and Entrepreneurship, in the release. “Scale-ups are 50 percent more productive than other [SMBs], but at present only 2.5 percent of all businesses fall into the scale-up category. That’s why we’re relaunching our Enterprise program to help more [SMBs] reach this next level of growth and productivity.”
NatWest will work with 1,400 businesses throughout the U.K. under the program, the release stated. It has created 50 new positions “to ensure these businesses are given appropriate, tailored support.”
After the onset of the pandemic, the model NatWest adopted included virtual events, coaching sessions and one-on-one support for entrepreneurs, according to the release. Prior to the pandemic, the young businesses would have been housed in accelerator hubs.
“Over the course of this year, the bank aims to support those on the program through a blended model, resuming use of its hubs once coronavirus guidelines allow, in conjunction with virtual aspects of the program that have proved most valuable to entrepreneurs over the last year,” the release stated.
NatWest “is committing to supporting 35,000 entrepreneurs through its Enterprise programs in 2021, and a further 200,000 interventions with future entrepreneurs through mentoring, webinars and coaching,” according to the release.
The bank’s efforts have led to the creation of nearly 1,300 jobs to date, the release stated.
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