What a difference a year makes! Entrepreneurs, business owners, funders and academics came together to celebrate the first year of the Barclays Eagle Labs based at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
The Eagle Lab, the only one of its kind in the East Midlands, is here to champion businesses who are looking to grow and be a key part of the city’s support system to drive innovation. Working in partnership with DMU, it helps bring opportunities to start-up businesses through a network of co-working spaces, mentors and learning tools, as well as events and growth programmes.
In the first year, the Leicester Barclays Eagle Lab has:
• Organised the highest number of events of any Eagle Labs centre nationally, with more than 1,000 people attending
• Hosted the first national Women in Business event
• Been the first venue outside London to host a Black Founders roadshow
• Brought 12 start-up businesses to its Canary Wharf HQ to pitch to its venture capital team
To mark its first year, Barclays Eagle Labs manager Poonam Sharma invited four businesses who have been supported to talk about their experiences.
They were: Glen Thurgood of Huumans which helps companies track employee wellbeing, fashion sportswear brand boss Jordan Hicks, who has worked with Premier League clubs, Michelle Williams of Meesh Consulting that translates data into action for firms and Lee Paxman-Clarke of Heal-Med, which works with hospitals around the country to support children with Type 1 diabetes and their families.
“Barclays Eagle Labs have really helped us with some big events,” said Lee. “When we launched the second version of our app we wanted to make a splash and Poonam has really helped us.”
Jordan added: “For us, being associated with Barclays and being invited to pitch to their VC is great because they sponsor the Premier League, so it ticks every box for our company.”
Michelle was able to access training and support through the female founders programme. She said: “Building a relationship with Poonam and with DMU has been a big part of our story.”
“I love the association with De Montfort University and Barclays,” added Glen. “What you need as a entrepreneur is a network and support and being here (at the Innovation Centre) has given us that collaborative space.”
Poonam said: “One of our key aims throughout has been to retain that business talent in Leicester and to work with partners across the city to help ensure that companies get that scale-up support here. It has been a real partnership with DMU and working with the team here has created so many opportunities for us to work with entrepreneurs, and more established businesses.
“The journey so far has been amazing and I cannot wait for year two.”
Later this month sees the launch of the Asian Founders community network – a first for Barclays nationally. It will be launched in Leicester and then head to Glasgow and Manchester, supported by DMU.
Helen Donnellan, director of Research, Business and Innovation at DMU, said: “At DMU, we see ourselves as a resource for the business community and partnerships, such as those with Barclays, are incredibly important for us.
“The focus on all our activity together has been to make new connections and strengthen our existing business relationships so that together, we can give the best possible support to businesses as they grow and develop. We’re so proud to look back on this first year and see how far we have come.”
Barclays Regional Lead for Eagle Labs Sam Hobbs said: “It has been really inspiring to hear how much we have achieved together in just our first year.”
* Want to get in touch with the Eagle Labs team at DMU? Click here to find out more
Posted on Friday 8th September 2023