Barclays’ Eagle Labs help start-ups take flight

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

The bank says the Eagle Labs will provide access to resources including expert mentoring, event space, 3D printers and laser cutters. With a third Eagle Lab opening in Brighton this week after successful pilots in Bournemouth and Cambridge, Barclays announced plans to open up to 20 Eagle Labs this year, including in Birmingham and Huddersfield.

The spaces will be 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 Incubators and MakerSpaces.

Incubators will target high-growth firms and entrepreneurs who are projecting 20% growth or more, giving fast growing businesses the space and resources to help them succeed. MakerSpaces will offer access to 3D printers and laser cutters. Meaning businesses will have access to the tools they need to rapidly produce and test prototypes without having to import from overseas, and can reduce the time and cost taken from concept to market.

At the launch of the Brighton Eagle Lab, Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK announced: “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.”

According to Barclays, 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 supporting growing businesses thrive and survive.

Councillor 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. The Eagle Lab is a key part of our drive to grow our digital economy which is backed by local partners including Silicon Beach and Silicon South.”

Barclays is the latest company to open an innovation lab. Last year Fab Lab UK opened its 19th lab in London and aims to open 50 labs in the UK by 2018.