Do you have what it takes to be the next Business Bank of the Year_

Do you have what it takes to be the next Business Bank of the Year?

The search is on to find the next Business Bank of the Year.

The 2nd Yorkshire Financial Awards, being held in Leeds on 27 February 2020, will recognise a bank with a track record in aiding business growth and is an architect of innovative financial solutions.

To mark the search for worthy entries for Business Bank of the Year at the Yorkshire Financial Awards 2020, here’s a recap of what some of the biggest brands in banking are doing in Yorkshire right now.

YFA 20 - Business Banking of the Year criteria

Santander

Santander launched its first UK Work Café in Leeds earlier this year.

The Work Café concept is aimed at small- and medium-sized entities (SME) and entrepreneurs and offers this key segment of the commercial market free co-working spaces and banking facilities.

Santander’s first UK Work Café is located in the heart of Leeds, on Park Row. It’s open to customers of other banks and aims to nurture new business ideas and foster collaboration in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Work Café has grown to a 50-strong chain of establishments across Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Argentina. If the Leeds trial is a success, Santander may look to roll it out further across the UK.

Yorkshire Bank

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank are to become Virgin Money as CYBG aims to disrupt the status quo with new products.

On top of the rebrand, the first ever Virgin Money business current account will be launched by the middle of 2020 as part of a new Virgin Money-branded SME business bank.

David Duffy, chief executive officer of CYBG, said earlier this year: “Banking is changing at an unprecedented rate. Consumers are using new technology in every part of their lives. With amazing customer experiences available in other industries, they are rightly demanding so much more from their banks.

“We have a clear ambition to disrupt the status quo with the new Virgin Money. The new group combines the iconic Virgin brand, with its distinctive and brilliant customer experience, with CYBG’s technology, product expertise and know-how. We believe we have the winning formula that will create a new force in consumer and business banking.”

NatWest

Seventeen SMEs based at the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator hub in Leeds made the bank’s inaugural #PowerUp Index of the 100 best businesses that have successfully emerged from its 2018/2019 cohort.

They were: Damson, JigTalk, XR Games, Synap, Mable Therapy, Rocket Horse (KwizzBit), James Wilcockson Associates, Xerogrid, Signin, GoodSense Training, Trackit Lights, Firehouse Fitness, Ross Barr, Research Retold, Monkey Mill, Free Running Buildings and Performance Leads.

Dan Burton, scale-up manager at the NatWest Accelerator in Leeds, told the Yorkshire Post over the summer: “Since NatWest brought the Entrepreneur Accelerator network in-house last year, we’ve been able to scale the programme rapidly.”

“There are 17 businesses from our Leeds hub on this year’s list, and each of these businesses and their founders have really stood out for their impressive growth mindset, job creation, business growth and consistently demonstrating the behaviours and qualities we expect of the country’s future entrepreneurial leaders.”

“This is in turn enabling them to have a truly significant impact in their local communities, while supporting the UK economy.”

NatWest offers Accelerator, Pre-Accelerator and Fintech Accelerator programmes for entrepreneurs at any stage. They are fully funded and participants don’t have to be NatWest customers.

Barclays

Earlier this year, Barclays became a major new partner at Avenue HQ, a new, flexible workspace that has opened in Leeds to support the city’s growing entrepreneurial business community.

Avenue HQ Leeds, supported by Eagle Labs became the second partnership between Avenue HQ and Barclays, following the success of their first site in Liverpool.

The Leeds space, based in the heart of the city centre, will house more than 300 businesses and provide a combination of co-working and private offices, giving businesses the space to grow and expand. Split across five floors, there are also large event spaces and several meeting rooms available to members, as well as a coffee shop and a rooftop bar, both open to the public.

As well as offering help and support to all members, Barclays Eagle Labs also has its own floor dedicated to incubating high-growth businesses.

All members will benefit from Eagle Labs’s initiatives and expertise, which include access to funding, mentoring and an events agenda designed to educate, connect and inspire entrepreneurs. The lab is supported by local Barclays business teams, who are on hand to offer support to local businesses.

Barclays will also have specialist high-growth managers on site to provide support to local companies and entrepreneurs.

Caroline Pullich, head of SME for Barclays in Yorkshire, said: “We’re really pleased to be partnering with Avenue HQ and this launch will further our investment in Yorkshire’s entrepreneurs. The city’s businesses are hungry for flexible workspace and we want to help local entrepreneurs to win the ‘champions league’ of growth and job creation.”

Matthew Kennedy, founder and chief executive officer of Avenue HQ, said: “Combining our flexible membership packages, workspace and events spaces with expert support, and an extensive events calendar, we will create a central hub for businesses of all sectors and sizes within Leeds and the surrounding areas. Access to a national network of Barclays Eagle Labs provides a wealth of opportunities for businesses to expand beyond the city, as well as for us to welcome businesses from other locations.”

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