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11 March, 2016 - 09:38 By Kate Sweeney

Barclays Eagle Labs soar from Cambridge across UK

A successful three-month pilot in Cambridge has prompted Barclays to open more innovation hubs for pioneering businesses in bank branches around the UK.

The Eagle Labs allow B2B and technology firms to utilise bank space and benefit from a number of support services in a collaborative environment.
Barclays, a long-term sponsor of the annual Business Weekly Awards, is pledged through the Eagle Labs initiative to help startup and scale-up businesses to co-locate, collaborate and grow.

Businesses and individuals can build their digital and business skills through Barclays’ investment in Eagle Labs, which the bank hopes will encourage innovation in the future of fast growth sectors as well as UK manufacturing and production.

The Eagle Labs provide access to resources including expert mentoring, event space, 3D printers and laser cutters. The access to 3D printers and laser cutters 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.

A third Eagle Lab opened in Brighton recently after successful pilots in Bournemouth and Cambridge. Now 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.

Barclays Eagle Lab MakerSpaces at its Cherry Hinton Road, Cambridge branch opened in December. A fully fledged Eagle Lab incubator opens at the bank’s Chesterton Road, Cambridge branch in early April.

It will host up to 82 individuals and specifically target high-growth firms and entrepreneurs projecting 20 per cent growth or more.

The Eagle Lab is also available for use by community interest groups and for educational development for all ages. Barclays is partnering with The Cambridge Judge Business School and other successful entrepreneurs and local professionals to provide a mentor and coaching network to facilitate the growth of the businesses involved.

The incubator has been created to complement the existing Cambridge incubators and co-working sites for local startups. It will host both part-time and full-time co-working space as well as private offices. The refurbished site also benefits from meeting rooms and an auditorium.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK said: “Technology is transforming the speed at which startups 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 startups is at its highest in three years, up 3.86 per cent nationally and seven per cent in the East of England in the first half of 2015. However, the number of high-growth businesses has declined, showing more must be done to support growing businesses thrive and survive.

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