Helping UK start-ups take flight

Posted on 9 Mar 2016 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Barclays is launching Eagle Labs a new national network of 20 technology sites for local businesses and communities that will redefine the role of the traditional high street banking branch.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK announced the national launch of Eagle Labs at a visit to the Brighton Eagle Lab.

Barclays is inviting businesses and individuals to build their digital and business skills through its investment in Eagle Labs, which the bank hopes will encourage innovation in the future of fast growth sectors, in addition to UK manufacturing and production.

The new Barclays Eagle Labs will provide access to resources including expert mentoring, event space, 3D printers and laser cutters – giving the UK’s start-up and scale-up communities a crucial boost. With a third Eagle Lab opening in Brighton this week after successful pilots in Bournemouth and Cambridge, the bank is announcing plans to open up to 20 Eagle Labs this year as part of its wider roll out across the UK, including in Birmingham and Huddersfield.

The spaces will be specifically designed around the needs of local entrepreneurs, businesses and communities and tailored to suit regional economic strength in specific industries. The Labs will be supported by Barclays’ Digital Eagles and feature:

  • Barclays Eagle Lab – Incubators – will specifically target high-growth firms and entrepreneurs who are projecting 20 per cent growth or more, giving fast growing businesses the space and resources to help them succeed. They will benefit from collaborating with other like-minded business, and mentoring from Barclays industry experts.
  • Barclays Eagle Lab – MakerSpaces – will offer access to 3D printers and laser cutters. This means businesses will have access to the tools they need to rapidly produce and test prototypes without having to import from overseas, and can significantly reduce the time and cost taken from concept to market.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK announced the national launch of Eagle Labs at a visit to the Brighton Eagle Lab: “Technology is transforming the speed at which start-ups can grow and scale. Simply having access to a 3D printer can now help people turn a clever idea into a business success overnight, and by providing practical resources alongside our financial expertise we intend to help people succeed.”

The latest Barclays and BGF Entrepreneurs Index* revealed the number of start-ups is at its highest in three years, up 3.86% nationally in the first half of 2015, however the number of high-growth businesses had declined, showing more must be done to support growing businesses thrive and survive.

Ashok Vaswani continued: “The Barclays Eagle Labs will take our relationship with local entrepreneurs one step further, providing them with access to the tools and resources that will help them accelerate growth.”

Reflecting on partnering with Barclays to launch an Eagle Lab in Bournemouth, Cllr John Beesley, Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council said: “As the fastest growing digital hub in the UK we were delighted that Bournemouth became home to one of the first Barclays Eagle Labs in recent weeks. The early take up has been very encouraging and our aim is for many local people, businesses and entrepreneurs to use this new facility. The Eagle Lab is a key part of our drive to grow our digital economy which is backed by many local partners including the Chamber of Commerce, Bournemouth University, the Arts University of Bournemouth, neighbouring local authorities, Silicon Beach and Silicon South.”