Big Four bank NatWest is re-launching its Enterprise programme to provide support for scale-up businesses and companies involved in the climate, fintech and B-Corp sectors.
The programme is free and open to all UK SMEs, with NatWest Accelerator hubs in Newcastle, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, London and Milton Keynes.
NatWest is aiming to support more than 1,400 businesses at different stages of growth through the programme, with a particular focus on scale-ups, which it defines as companies that grow their turnover or employment by more than 20% each year.
It is also committing at least a quarter of space on the programme to climate-focussed businesses in the run-up to the UN COP26 climate summit, to be held in Glasgow in November.
NatWest has created 50 roles based around the country to ensure these businesses are given appropriate, tailored support.
The move to re-launch the accelerator follows the bank’s report into SME recovery in the UK revealing that scale-ups were 50% more productive than SMEs, but at present only 2.5% of all businesses fall into the scale-up category.
It found that transforming a greater proportion of SMEs into scale-ups, and driving a shift towards sustainability, were two priorities which could help unlock £140bn of economic growth by 2030.
Andrew Harrison, head of business banking and entrepreneurship at 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% and 20% 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 the programme to a virtual model, but is now hoping to offer a hybrid programme once coronavirus guidelines allow.