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NatWest and RBS say they are stepping up support for entrepreneurs and high growth businesses with a network of eight new business accelerator hubs offering free workspace.

NatWest and RBS say they are stepping up support for entrepreneurs and high growth businesses with a network of eight new business accelerator hubs offering free workspace.

The hubs will also offer mentoring, a start up "bootcamp" and a free programme of up to 18 months of advice, support and funding clinics.

Entrepreneurs will be able to gain access to hubs in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast. The hubs will house up to 80 entrepreneurs selected to join the programme through a competitive application process, with each hub hosting two intakes every year.

At the end of the programme each hub will host a "graduation" event bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and business advisors for mentoring and networking sessions, giving the opportunity to the graduating businesses to pitch to potential investors.

Growth awards of up to £50,000 will also be launched across the country offering cash injections to businesses when they need it most.

Alison Rose, NatWest and RBS CEO of commercial and private banking, said: “This is a step-change in how RBS and NatWest support entrepreneurial talent in the UK. By opening up our premises and providing them with support and a far reaching network of contacts, we are backing the businesses of tomorrow and helping ambitious entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level."

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NatWest and RBS are working with business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark to establish the hubs. The hubs will be rolled out over the next two years, beginning with Birmingham early in 2015. NatWest and RBS will look to situate hubs in existing bank premises where possible.

Applicants are welcomed from any sector and do not need to be NatWest or RBS customers. Applications are being accepted now for the Birmingham programme and entrepreneurs in other cities can also register their interest online.