Scottish-based business incubator network Entrepreneurial Spark, “the world’s largest free accelerator for start-up and growing ventures,” has promoted co-founder Lucy-Rose Walker to the role of CEO.
It said Walker is taking the helm during a period of extreme high growth and will be focusing on “further developing the people and processes behind the businesses, encouraging more female entrepreneurs to start their own company, and is also seeking to double the reach of entrepreneurs on board the accelerator.”
Former “chief executive optimist” Jim Duffy will now take on the role of Head of #GoDo when Walker takes on her new role on June 30, travelling across the network’s “Hatcheries” and providing one-to-one sessions with promising businesses.
In her new role as CEO, Walker has appointed Gayle Mann as Head of Enablement to “help reimagine and hone the enablement process, and dive deeper into how the accelerator can provide an even better programme to entrepreneurs across all sectors.”
Walker said: “Jim created something revolutionary when he started Entrepreneurial Spark and I have been privileged to be a part of that for the last four and a half years.
“I am delighted to become CEO of this fantastic start-up and look forward to building and refining the current model, while also developing new opportunities and focusing on the growth of the business.
“From starting out with one space in Glasgow in 2012, donated by Lord Willie Haughey, we’ve rapidly expanded Entrepreneurial Spark, with 13 Hatcheries opening across the UK by 2017 and Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by Viridian which launched in India last summer.”
Duffy said: “Entrepreneurial Spark has long been a champion of female entrepreneurship, with females making up 60% of the team, and now is the time for our new female CEO to take over and practice what we preach.
“Part of starting and running a business is knowing when it’s time to hand over the reins to someone else who is best placed to develop your company and adapt to the changing times ahead.
“As a start-up guy I love starting things and getting them to a position that they can really grow, and I truly believe that Lucy-Rose is the ideal person to lead the team and take this forward.
“I’m excited to work even more closely with the enablement team in my new role as Head of #GoDo and support the company as we grow over the next three to five years.”
Entrepreneurial Spark said that with more than £45 million of investment raised by “Chiclets” across the UK to date and a combined turnover of £85 million, 1,816 jobs created and with 88% of businesses the company has worked with since 2012 still trading today, the impact the business accelerator is having is already “leap years ahead of alternative support options.”
Having previously signed deals with partners Royal Bank of Scotland, KPMG and Harper Macleod, Entrepreneurial Spark recently announced a partnership with global tech specialists EMC to enhance its digital and tech offering.
Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The partnership between RBS and Entrepreneurial Spark has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs, created thousands of jobs and secured millions of pounds in investment for UK businesses, and I look forward to continuing that work with Lucy-Rose.
“As a strong supporter of women in business I am delighted to congratulate Lucy-Rose on her appointment as CEO.”