A Spanish bank has started to run its own Accelerator


A Spanish bank has started to run its own Accelerator – as a training ground for its own staff, and as a means of shifting its culture towards greater innovation; but startups will have reasons to be wary of corporate Accelerators which can limit their possible outcomes.
Banco Sabadell in Barcelona is among the first banks to run its own Accelerator. It has so far run two cohorts of startups through its 6-month programme, each cohort of five small businesses; and it plans to continue to run two cohorts per annum.
The bank believes that like Barcelona’s Football Club, it will be better if it has its own junior academy rather than have to buy in stars later – at a much higher price! An important motive behind the programme is that of shifting the culture of the bank towards greater innovation.
Candidates can be a one-person business, but the business must have at least one full-time employee, or it or it may already be a team; it must have a minimum viable product; it will very probably already have some sales; and it must be capable of rapid development. The first call elicited 400 responses, of which some 40 were shortlisted, and 5 selected.
The bank provides no funding, so candidates will already have a viable business – on a small scale; but it takes an equity stake from participants of between 6 and 10% depending on the valuation of the business.
The bank works with a partner organisation, and has a close relationship with Telefonica’s Wayra Lab, whose Accelerator in Barcelona works with earlier-stage businesses, but runs to a similar timetable.
Participants may either stay where they are already located or they may come to Barcelona, where they would receive closer mentoring. The partner organisation provides five professional mentors, and some twenty are made available by the bank, involving all sections of the bank. The bank is aiming to increase the number of workshops it provides itself, and to involve more of its own employees in the Accelerator programme; and to involve its entrepreneurs increasingly in internal conferences and similar activities of the bank.
From these first two cohorts, two of the businesses have come into the bank; one has successfully gone its own way; the bank is helping some others to find further funding; and about half have failed.

Jon Bradford of Springboard and Techstars pointed out in a recent note that corporate Accelerators may well be less attractive to startups (unless of course the corporate represents a unique market for startup’s product, or else is simply an investor) than independent Accelerators for several reasons: the programme director may have less experience; corporates will have a narrower range of mentors; they will have little interest or experience in introducing the SMEs to the VC community; and their equity stake and rights may muddy other funding opportunities and limit the SMEs market for future funding.


Applied Creativity Sept 2013


The task of bringing innovations into widespread use needs to have as much emphasis as the development of new technologies or their new products

Processes of innovation do not attract the interest that new products and services do, so we should celebrate the new Level39 at Canary Wharf, a fast-expanding hub of creativity focusing here on financial services and retail, but a model that could find a place in other ‘clusters’; and Angel investing continues to thrive and expand, as do start-ups and Accelerators.

The UK rates highly as a centre of innovationism, with well-identified technological foci and a strongly developing entrepreneurial culture. But while we are plagued by new offers, new deals, new apps, we remain desperately slow to bring major innovations into being, such as HS2, new sources of energy, new airports, new systems (eg in the NHS and in government). Leaders say that innovation is their top priority, but they don’t seem to deliver.





 Applied Creativity September 2013

Briefings from John Whatmore at The Centre for Leadership in Creativity






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Level39, Canary Wharf – a throbbing new Innovation Centre

This unique tailor-made innovation eco-system has been carefully designed to meet the varied needs of those who are looking for innovations and those who are seeking to develop them in this part of London; and to bring them together in successful collaborations. What it does and how it does it might have some useful lessons for all those involved in innovationism.


Angel investing taking yet more steps forward

Now far from its origins as a side-line for rich single investors, angel investing is becoming a collaboration between different contributors and the UK Business Angels Association – a major supporter of fast-growing young businesses.


 YCombinator a unique experiment

A recent article in the Times (27.7.2013) about YCombinator – as an archetypal Accelerator, emphasises some of its seemingly nuttier aspects; so what do they tell us? (http://wp.me/p3beJt-6d)

Managing to-day’s Accelerators

At a recent Workshop I ran with people involved in Accelerators, it was clear that Accelerators are becoming more institutionalised. They are no longer one-offs, they are part of continuing programmes; they are working with more established entrepreneur ‘teams’; Accelerators are no longer being managed by just one or two individuals but by teams; and they are involving a wider cohort of followers. Moreover they are developing fast. (http://wp.me/p3beJt-5W)

‘Supporters’ becoming more integral to Accelerators

Advisors, Speakers, Mentors and other specialists are getting more and more involved in Accelerators; but generalists, polymaths or iconoclasts should not be excluded. (http://wp.me/p3beJt-6f)

Managing Bubbles

The government would like to discourage ‘bubbles’ caused by overheating, but to encourage others where they are the green shoots of the future. How can they do so? (http://wp.me/p3beJt-61)

Calibrating my Raspberry Pi – my own ‘Outrage Meter’

I don’t need the Press any more: I have found a computer which I can programme to deliver just the items I want that will give me my regular dose of outrage instead of reading the media! (http://wp.me/p3beJt-6h)


The Centre for Leadership in Creativity (a ‘virus for creativity’) carries out research and provides consultancy and peer-to-peer learning for organisations looking to enhance their creativity and innovation.

Copyright John Whatmore 2013

The Centre for Leadership in Creativity                         138 Iffley Road,London W6 OPE           

Tel: 020 8748 2553                                             E-mail:  john.whatmore@btinternet.com