Deloitte builds sofa-and-slippers startup fund ... where's the fun in that?

Accountancy firm takes Silicon Valley culture, gives it a nice cup of tea

Deloitte has taken a leap into the fast-moving, fail-often world of startup culture by developing a risk-free version of Silicon Valley. A charming anti-formula to the Bay Area's post-revenue darlings.

The accountancy giant has put aside £25m ($39m) to fund new business ideas proposed by its own employees: the staffers get to pitch products and services, and then work on them if they win approval from above.

And as only a bean-counting company can, Deloitte removes both the risk and big rewards associated with startups by allowing employees to continue to draw their salaries while offering them no equity in the companies they create.

Staff who manage to build and sell a viable business, or turn a profit, are promised a reward of some kind, however.

"We have some of the most entrepreneurial minds in the country right here in our organization and we want to give them the opportunity to develop in unique ways,” said Deloitte's innovation head honcho Simon Owen, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he is developing a fur-lined box for their talents.

And what of the inevitable failures? They needn't worry, either; no one is going homeless. "When it doesn’t work, we will shut it down in an orderly fashion. The employees will remain part of Deloitte and they will return to the mothership. There is no financial risk for them,” Owen told The Telegraph.

It's hard to imagine a more British approach. But not so hard to imagine that the program will continue to reap British-levels of startup success. ®

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