The most interesting FinTech accelerators in Scotland just needed to be covered in this series. After all, this country is becoming a major startup hub in the UK and many FinTech businesses choose Edinburgh or Glasgow over London. Want to know why?
Interestingly, startups don’t choose Scotland only thanks to a variety of FinTech accelerators. On the contrary, while there are dozens of accelerators, only few concentrate on FinTechs. However, when they do it they do it right and they have help from the government and independent organizations.
More than just FinTech accelerators in Scotland
FinTech accelerators in Scotland are a part of a bigger picture, which is a whole network of connections between the government and institutions that coordinate the common effort to make Scotland a better place to grow businesses. One of them is FinTech Scotland.
FinTech Scotland – a strong partner of FinTech accelerators in Scotland
In post-brexit times, it is vital to convince as many entrepreneurs to stay and develop their businesses in Scotland, instead of letting them emigrate to foreign hubs. In order to do it, the Scottish Government supports initiatives such as FinTech Scotland, the most prominent local organisation devised to support the FinTech community.
Welcome to FinTech Scotland. We exist to ensure that Scotland seizes the fintech opportunity through financial innovation, collaboration and inclusion.
As an independent body established by the financial sector, universities and the government, FinTech Scotland acts as a strategic enabler works towards creating an innovative community of companies that want to make Scotland one of the FinTech capitals of the world.
The organization has a number of basic goals:
- Connecting – developing and maintaining relationships and communication between large financial institutions and startups, as well as universities, technology providers, public agencies and regulators, such as the Financial Conduct Authority.
- Enabling – allowing fresh FinTechs to grow in a secure environment by working closely with strategic partners, such as IBM, Pinsent Masons, Deloitte, Prudential, Fujitsu and key Scottish universities.
- Fuelling Innovation – offering help to all FinTechs in need. Thanks to its huge community, FinTech Scotland offers numerous networking opportunities and help at gathering funding (together with commercialisation experts from Vivolution).
- Preparing for the Future – by direct partnerships with leading business schools and technology universities, FinTech Scotland is always up to date with the latest trends and innovations in the sphere of technologies that can be utilised by startups. The organisation also supports fresh talents, ambitious students and all those, who want to learn and adapt to the ever-changing job market and mobile development industry.
- Being Visible – FinTech Scotland works hard to market the region as one of the leading FinTech hubs, but also spends a lot of time and effort to promote local startups.
- Being Global – by working with Scottish Government International, FinTech Scotland is able to promote Scottish companies worldwide and network with other, similar, communities.
Make sure to monitor the news about FinTech Scotland on their Linkedin.
RBS FinTech Accelerator from Edinburgh
The Royal Bank of Scotland’s accelerator programme has been tailored to empower existing businesses to grow. It was founded in 2018, parallelly in four RBS hubs: Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester, though its main headquarters are in the capital city of Scotland. The most important fact about it is that it is fully-funded and it doesn’t take any equity in any business that it helps, which is an outstanding feat. It means your FinTech product stays 100% yours!
In order to apply to the RBS FinTech Accelerator programme, you need to meet certain criteria and prove your suitability. What is judged is quite simple to understand and directly related to what you’re going to discuss if you succeed and get chosen. Six basic questions you need to answer in your application are:
- Are you the decision maker in your company?
- Is it your full time job?
- Do you have customers or are you certain that there is a market for your product or service?
- Do you employ people?
- Do you want to create a team to work with you? (learn more about it: team augmentation benefits)
- Do you want to scale up?
- Is your company developing already or are you convinced that you want it to grow?
Interestingly, these are very open questions and your answers are going to be interpreted individually, so just be honest while answering them.
The programme takes six months and starts each April and October and you’ll find its HQ under this address: 3rd Floor Gemini Building, 24-25 St Andrews Square, Edinburgh, EH2 1AF.
As I mentioned before, the RBS FinTech Accelerator programme was not created to help completely fresh startups. Don’t worry, though. If you have a brilliant idea for a business and need some assistance, RBS has another option just for you. Royal Bank of Scotland Business Builder is a self-service digital learning enforcement for early stage startups and offers a large knowledge base, online learning portal, workshop and a thriving Facebook community of people just like you and experts from many industries.
Robert Gordon University Innovation Accelerator
Though it is not a solely FinTech oriented organisation, the RGU Innovation Accelerator (formerly known as RGU Startup Accelerator) has some success stories regarding this industry. Digital Future Capital, Scotland’s first digital asset hedge fund that has gained FCA approval wouldn’t be where it is today without RGU’s help.
RGU’s programme focuses on people connected with the university itself, so it can be considered quite exclusive, however all it takes is just one member of your organisation to be a current or former student of RGU or NESCol. Your startup should also be in its early stage and you should be located in Scotland.
On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to meet these requirements, you can gain a lot:
- Training Workshops, where you and your partners attend courses about everything you need to know, when starting a business: idea testing, market research, reaching first customers, taxes, etc.
- Seed Funding, which in this case is £2,000 that you get without any obligations. Just spend the whole sum on concept growing activities, selecting the best technology for FinTech you need and developing the product.
- Co-Working Space, both on-campus and in the city centre, so you save on expenditures related to renting an office. The office spaces are equipped with all the appliances you need: kitchens, printers, stationary and conference rooms.
- Mentorship directly from industry experts and university professors. You can schedule regular meetings with them and expect them to help you network with other entrepreneurs, as well as to eventually become investors or advisers.
- Showcase Event that takes place at the formal end of the programme in the summer and which is a perfect opportunity to present your product to a number of potential clients and investors. It’s also a chance to pitch for additional funding.
- Student Status, even if you or just some of your team members are RGU alumni. With the student status, you get access to all benefits that regular university students have, including many discounts.
- Digital Support, including access to software such as Microsoft Office and Linkedin Learning.
The application process for this winter’s cohort is already closed, but stay tuned and take your time to prepare for the next round!
Tech Nation – an honorable mention
Though Tech Nation is not a Scotland exclusive organization, it works with a number of Scottish startups too, so we decided to include it in this article as an honourable mention. Tech Nation has quite a long history, as it was founded 11 years ago with a mission of uniting the whole, national network of companies. Its current goal is to “unlock the growth potential of 1000 calling tech leadership teams across the UK by 2022”. How is it going to happen?
Tech Nation has a number of programmes dedicated to startups and businesses on different stages:
- Founder’s Network (early stage), which is the UK’s leading peer-to-peer support network for ambitious startups. If you join it (which is completely free), you will be able to converse about everything related to running a business with a gigantic Slack community. You may even find a business partner there.
- Rising Stars (early stage), the UK’s most exciting competition for innovative startups. Taking part in it is your best chance to showcase what you’ve got to the influential representatives of corporations, leading investors and promote your product.
- Upscale (mid stage), a curated programme in which you can explore the crucial business development challenges together with entrepreneurs similar to you and learn from expert couches.
- Future Fifty (late stage), where you are taken care of individually. As the stakes are high on this stage of growing a FinTech startup, Tech Nation offers to give you everything they can in a form of open dialogue between you and experienced founders, as well as, masterclass courses conducted by the best coaches in the industry. Suffice to say, you’ll be joining businesses such as Monzo, Bulb, Deliveroo and Zoopla.
When it comes strictly to FinTech, Tech Nation has a dedicated Fintech Programme, which they developed exclusively to support this industry. It takes six months and consists of a series of sessions with established investors, partners and FinTech entrepreneurs and where you can learn everything you need to know about sales, tools and pitching your product. Obviously, there is a great deal of networking involved too.
Everything Tech Nation offers is completely free and they won’t ask for an equity stake in your business.
Are FinTech accelerators in Scotland going to boom?
As I mentioned earlier, FinTech accelerators in Scotland are working very hard to make this place a major hub of the industry, especially now, after brexit has complicated things a bit. Fortunately, we live in a global economy anyway and there are so many brilliant, new entrepreneurs in the UK, that I’m sure Scotland is heading in the right direction. More on FinTech accelerators coming soon!