NatWest has relaunched its Enterprise programme to boost its support for scale-up businesses, as well as climate, fintech, and B-Corp focussed businesses.
The free programme is now open to applications from all UK SMEs to join its June cohort.
Through the programme Natwest will support over 1,400 businesses at different stages of growth using its network of accelerator hubs across the UK. The programme has a particular focus on scale-ups – businesses that grow their turnover or employment by more than 20 per cent each year.
NatWest now commits at least 25 per cent of space on the programme to climate focused businesses whose main objective relates to environmentally sustainable practices.
The relaunch of the programme follows findings from the bank’s recent Springboard to Recovery report into SME recovery in the UK. The report found that transforming a greater proportion of SMEs into ‘scale-ups’ and driving a shift towards sustainability were two priorities which, if addressed, could help unlock £140bn of economic growth by 2030.
Andrew Harrison Head of Business Banking and Entrepreneurship for NatWest said: “The findings of our recent Springboard to Recovery report showed that scale-ups will be crucial to UK economic recovery post Covid-19. Scale-ups are 50% more productive than other SMEs, but at present only 2.5% of all businesses fall into the scale-up category. That’s why we’re relaunching our Enterprise programme to help more SMEs reach this next level of growth and productivity.
“Combined with increased representation and support for female and BAME led businesses throughout our new cohort – which we aim to ensure are at least 60 per cent and 20 per cent respectively – and a focus on businesses with sustainability and purpose at their core, we’re excited to be opening our doors again to support the next generation of business success stories.”
During the pandemic the bank moved its Enterprise programme to a virtual model, offering online coaching sessions, events and 1-1 support to entrepreneurs that would normally be based in the physical accelerator hubs. Over the course of this year, the bank aims to support those on the programme through a blended model, resuming use of its hubs once coronavirus guidelines allow, in conjunction with virtual aspects of the programme that have proved most valuable to entrepreneurs over the last year.
Interested businesses can apply to join the June cohort at the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator site.