Applications Are Open For Evolving Accelerator Hub

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Applications Are Open For Evolving Accelerator Hub

Businesses across Leeds and Yorkshire are invited to join the next intake of a successful business accelerator programme.

Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest is currently accepting applications for its next intake of businesses to join the hub in Leeds in August. The programme, which was launched in Leeds in August 2015, has supported more than (3000) businesses UK wide and 320 in Leeds to realise their growth ambitions. More than 3,000 jobs have been created by its entrepreneurs and nearly 35.5million investment was raised from the Leeds hub alone. 85% of businesses are still trading compared to 40% nationally according to the 2017 Entrepreneurial Spark Impact Report.

Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest is passionate about supporting business as they grow and scale up. The programme is made up of four-stages which are tailored for a range of businesses from early stage start-ups to more established SMEs. These stages are:

• Sprint – A three month programme designed to give more entrepreneurs the opportunity to access support to get their entrepreneurial idea off the ground
• Enable – Up to a 6 month programme based on establishing a solid foundation for a scalable, profitable and repeatable business model.
• Growth –Up to a 6 month programme aimed at identifying and bridging the gaps in a business model giving the entrepreneurs the confidence to go out there and truly accelerate the business and reach aspirational goals.
• Scale – Up to a 6 month programme focused on identifying the elements that present the biggest scale up opportunity, facilitating access to funding, guidance to building infrastructure and analysing success.

Underpinning all of these offerings is the wrap around support which is focused on the entrepreneurial leader to ensure they remain focused, accountable and on track to achieve their aspirations. Maiden Voyage was part of the first intake in August 2015. The business was founded in 2008 and aims to make business travel both safe and social for women. Carolyn Pearson, CEO of the business, has seen significant development in her business since joining. Turnover has increased 300% and the business has also won £13K in prize money. Its online community has risen from 8,000 to 11,000, and they’ve developed and brought to market a fantastic new e-learning solution

She said: “Prior to Entrepreneurial Spark, Maiden Voyage was run solely by the founder and a few freelancers but our involvement in the programme has resulted in us securing close to £500K investment. We have recruited an outstanding team of professionals, creating jobs, and have expanded our client base globally.

“I’m no longer on the programme itself but am mentoring some of the businesses that are currently there. The support you receive from the ecosystem around the hub is invaluable at whatever stage you are at. As you grow you can tap into a network of people with the expertise needed to support investment so you can make the right decision for your business.”

Melissa Hulme, Entrepreneur Development Manager at NatWest, said: “Our Leeds hub has supported hundreds of businesses in their development over the last two years. The free accelerator is enabling entrepreneurs to create jobs across the UK, secure investment and support the Leeds and Yorkshire economies. We encourage all businesses that are interested in the programme to apply, especially those which are beyond the start-up stage and wanting additional support as they grow and scale.”

To apply visit:

This blog was provided by Melissa Hulme, Entrepreneur Development Manager at Natwest

Melissa graduated from Newcastle University in 2010 with a history degree, however, quickly decided that banking was the career for her! In the 6 years she has worked for the group she has undertaken a variety of roles in the retail, business and commercial sectors, ranging from project management to leadership where she leads a team of 12 auditors in the Portfolio Management team of RBS Invoice Finance.

Melissa currently works in the Entrepreneurship Team as an Entrepreneur Development Manager supporting the banks entrepreneurship strategy within the bank and the Entrepreneurial Spark Hub Leeds. Melissa loves working with the entrepreneurs to help build backable, credible and investable individuals and is proud to have supported 1736 companies across the UK who have collectively turned over £176 million and raised £151 million of investment.

Alongside work, Melissa is a music lover and keen hiker and is walking up to Everest Base Camp later on in the year.

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