A national scheme called Hatch, started by Barclays in collaboration with charity 3Space, will give social enterprises, not-for-profit charities and early stage start-ups access to free co-working space by using the bank’s “under-utilised” properties.
The first site, which was a former bank vault, has opened in Oxford and combines desk space with workshops and rooms for meetings and events, as well as access to a range of tech equipment, such as 3D printers, a workshop and audio-visual technology. The spaces also offer free support from Barclays’ staff, which includes advice on technology if needed.
There are three more such spaces planned for next year and, according to Barclays, Hatch will provide solutions to a combination of needs beyond the physical locations, including creative and social help to get ideas off the ground.
A spokesman for 3Space said that the charity has identified a need for a type of local space where creative people, social enterprise, non-profits and local entrepreneurs can work, collaborate and experiment, creating value from an otherwise under-utilised resource.
The initiative follows other entrepreneur-focused schemes from Barclays including Barclays Accelerator, a three-month start-up programme, and the opening of the Escalator in East London and Manchester.
As a spokesman for Barclays said, one of the biggest challenges facing fledgling enterprises is finding affordable space in which they can experiment with ideas and foster creativity.
He added that working with 3Space allows the bank to tackle this, providing a base for local entrepreneurs and social enterprises and giving them access to the support and resources they need, beyond traditional banking products and services.