New Sheffield incubator for 170 tech start-up staff
A new tech incubator in Sheffield could house up to 170 start-up staff and boost the city’s reputation for video games.
Barclays has opened an ‘Eagle Lab’ on the top floor of the new Kollider hub at Castle House - the largest of 22 in the UK.
Tech firms of up to 30 staff can pay for a desk or office in what used to be the cafe in the former Coop department store on Castle Street.
They will have access to the bank’s network of advisers as well as events and seminars. But they won’t have to be Barclays customers.
Eagle Labs boss Ben Davey said there would be no ‘hard sell’ because their success was measured by the value they gave customers, including the number of companies established, funds raised and the number that outgrow the lab.
He added: “It’s very different. I genuinely don’t think anyone else is doing this. We’re not looking for a revenue or economic outcome. But we’re not commercially naive, at some point companies growing need financial advice and can develop that relationship with us.”
The incubator could develop a reputation as a gaming tech centre due to the city’s prowess in the sector, led by Sumo Digital and Sheffield Hallam University, he added.
Caroline Pullich, Barclays head of SME Yorkshire said they’d had “phenomenal” feedback. A launch event was attended by scores of people.
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Ian Holland is ‘eco system manager’ of the Sheffield lab, which will have up to four Barclays staff on hand each day.
Nationally, the 22 Eagle Labs have staged 1,631 events in two years attended by 67,500 people. Resident firms have raised £360m in two years.
They were started after Barclays sought new uses following branch closures and reopened them for community use - where people started talking about business ideas, Mr Davey said.
He added: “It’s grown organically. We were helping local economies grow and if they grow we grow.”
Neil Bradburne, Barclays business banking area manager, said: “We are very proud to be launching Kollider Incubator powered by Barclays Eagle Lab in Sheffield. It gives Yorkshire’s entrepreneurs a great opportunity to access support and guidance in order to scale their business, and we are equipped to help them grow and compete on a world stage.
“Sheffield is our third Eagle Lab in the Yorkshire region and as a partner, Kollider are as passionate about supporting businesses as we are.” Barclays experts will provide mentoring, connections and collaborations for businesses to flourish, he added.