Barclays has teamed up with BEC and nuclear site Sellafield Ltd to launch a major business space in Cumbria.

The £8.2m project, largely funded by Sellafield, will see the Whitehaven Bus Station transform into a Barclays Eagle Lab business incubator space. Sellafield has invested £5.7m so far to kickstart the redevelopment along with developer BEC.

It will offer co-working, office and meeting space, as well as a space where entrepreneurs, individuals and businesses can access tools, curated events and networking opportunities. The aim is to boost Cumbria’s start-up and entrepreneurial environment.

Entrepreneurs will also be able to access banking services, business expertise, and mentoring and coaching.

John Hope, director of Barclays Eagle Labs, said: “We’ll bring our Eagle Labs philosophy to Whitehaven, helping to provide start-ups and scale-ups a home and fostering the connections to help them grow, while our Digital Eagles will provide training in digital skills to help upskill the wider community.”

Investing in Cumbria’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

The project is part of Sellafield’s Social Impact Multiplied (SiX) programme, funded by its owner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Martin Chown, Chief Executive at Sellafield, said: “We are proud to have invested £5.7 million in the Bus Station development. The Eagle Lab is a cornerstone of our work to help diversify and grow the local economy and this success can act as a template for communities like ours around the country.

“This is an incredibly exciting development, representing years of work and it really demonstrates an enormous vote of confidence in West Cumbria.”

This comes as Cumbria, in particular the Copeland area, has seen little investment in recent years. Mike Starkie, the Mayor of Copeland, has welcomed the news and has labelled the project as “an incredibly exciting development”.

“Barclays choosing to invest in Whitehaven is a real acknowledgement of the exciting opportunities and business environment here,” he said.

“The Eagle Lab will be a key enabler for our economic strategy for Copeland to become a globally recognised place of innovation and opportunity.”

The Whitehaven Eagle Lab will be the 24th in Barclays’ nationwide network. Barclays launched its Eagle Labs network in 2015, with the aim of helping local communities develop their entrepreneurial ecosystems.