As one of the largest networks of business incubator spaces in the UK, with locations spread all over the country, the aim of Eagle Labs is to complement local ecosystems and support entrepreneurs and startups to innovate and grow. This mission began in 2015, when Barclays was inspired by MIT’s Fab Lab which provides open-source access to tools and equipment, and transformed its underutilised space in Cambridge into the first Eagle Lab.
Today, the incubator spaces are used by a range of individuals, investors, businesses and corporates, helping to interconnect the entrepreneurial ecosystems of local areas. The main focus of Eagle Labs, however, remains to support early-stage startups. It does this by offering a range of resources, including coworking and office space, opportunities for skill learning, mentoring from business experts, workshops and networking events, access to emerging technologies and business incubation for high-growth businesses.
The journey since 2015 has shown that collaboration and community are of paramount importance. Eagle Labs focuses on businesses who want to work together, enjoy peer networks and contribute to a community. The running of Eagle Labs and its continual expansion has been fuelled through partnerships with organisations such as universities, councils, private incubators and other corporate clients. These partners share the same agenda of job creation, skill development, investment and local economic growth.
By working together on Eagle Labs, Barclays and its partners can maximise the resources and capabilities of the incubator spaces available to its users.
In addition to its successive opening of incubator spaces in new locations, growth programmes and industry milestones are key to Eagle Labs’ history. In 2019, Eagle Labs launched the Global Connect Programme to connect founders to international markets and the Funding Readiness Programme to help early-stage founders identify and access different funding types. Then, in 2020, Eagle Labs aimed to improve diversity in entrepreneurship with the Female Founder programme and the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator. Eagle Labs has also given particular attention in recent years to emerging technology sectors that can achieve positive disruption in the UK, including LawTech, HealthTech, AgriTech, EnergyTech and CyberTech. This includes the creation of a dedicated LawTech hub in 2018 and the launch of a HealthTech vertical and a Medicine Accelerator in 2019.
In 2021, Eagle Labs remains committed to the levelling up campaign by continuing to provide incubator space and resources all over the UK for very early-stage businesses with high potential for growth. Eagle Labs hopes to expand the network by working with more councils and universities that are also committed to regional ecosystem development and accessing central funds that make building and running more spaces possible.
Collaborating to support the ecosystem
How Barclays Eagle Labs partners with councils and local government initiatives
Wherever possible, Barclays Eagle Labs looks to collaborate and partner with local organisations to tailor support towards a community’s needs. This allows the ecosystem to benefit from the national network of expertise that we can provide. Some examples of this are detailed below.
Southampton City Council were interested in re-imagining the high street, attracting inward investment whilst retaining post-graduate intellectual talent. This is our first partnership with a local authority. We’ve been commissioned to run the city’s Network Eagle Lab, which is a 12,500 sq ft incubator located in previously underutilised space in the Marlands Shopping Centre. Our philosophy of regenerating under-used spaces was aligned with Southampton City Council’s approach. Since 2019, the incubator has supported some of the most exciting startups in the area and businesses have benefitted from wider support with many attending the Global Connect and Funding Readiness programmes.
Barclays Eagle Labs have partnered with Britain’s Energy Coast and Sellafield Ltd. to launch an Eagle Lab incubator to boost the region’s startup and scaleup businesses. The partnership aims to diversify employment opportunities, regenerate the region through innovation and take advantage of the local infrastructure and expertise.
The incubator itself is located in the site of an old bus station and offers a mixture of co-working, offices and meeting space, plus a rapid prototyping makerspace. Businesses are able to access expert mentoring and funding opportunities through Eagle Labs. As part of the initiative Eagle Labs have also launched a nation-wide EnergyTech programme encouraging innovation in the energy sector and facilitated collaboration between startups and corporates.