The British Library has announced a major expansion of its highly successful network of library-based Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) to more than 100 regional and local libraries across England.
Following last year’s pledge of £13 million in Treasury funding towards the expansion, Business & IP Centre Hull has been allocated £ 704,673 to enhance its delivery and equip four regional libraries in Beverley Library, Bridlington Central Library, Goole Library and Grimsby Central Library with Business & IP Centre spaces, resources and services.
Business & IP Centre Hull has a notably strong track record of supporting local people from all walks of life to start, protect and grow successful small businesses. Proven to drive economic growth BIPC Hull has helped to create 536 new businesses and 275 additional jobs, with £ 2.4m of GVA created.
It also supports a diverse community of entrepreneurs, of those people who used the services 54% were women, 34% were aged 35 and under, 13% were black, Asian and minority ethnic, 50% were from the most deprived areas and 19% were disabled. The Business & IP Centre Network achieves a payback of £ 6.95 for every £1 of public money spent.
Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chair of Hull Culture & Leisure, said: “This is great news for the local economy. Business & IP Centre Hull are well placed to lead the Humber Partnership by sharing their wealth of skills and expertise, offering our area the best possible chance for business success. Our trusted and community focused libraries are places of shared information and knowledge, and offer truly accepting spaces for anyone with a business or business idea.”
Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. Consistently, more than half of those who use a BIPC to set up a business are women and a third are from under-represented ethnic backgrounds. More than triple the national averages for business ownership in the UK, this diverse user base speaks to the accessibility and community-based ethos of public library-based support.
While each Centre, including Business & IP Centre Hull, is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, brought to life by a tailored and highly individual programme of events, workshops and one-to-ones, delivered in collaboration with local business leaders, role model entrepreneurs and community partners.
This accessible support has been invaluable for small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a recent survey, 23% of all BIPC users said that the service had helped them gain confidence and resilience to steer their business through the challenges of the pandemic. More than 3,600 business owners across the UK have attended events as part of Reset. Restart, an emergency online programme launched by the British Library last year to provide new skills and resilience to all SMEs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Liz Jolly, chief librarian at the British Library, said: “At their heart, libraries are trusted spaces with professional staff who have a mission to connect people with information. From Glasgow to Brighton, our BIPC Network harnesses the power of libraries, bringing in expertise from the local community to help people from all walks of life turn an idea into a successful business.
“We’re delighted to mark this next chapter in the network’s journey, growing from 14 to over 100 new regional and local centres across England, with a longer-term ambition to expand across the UK. Our mission is to put business support in every library, but we’re also learning lessons from the past year, by making sure more and more of our business and IP workshops, events and one-to-ones are open to everyone online.”
Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage, said: “It is brilliant that small businesses and entrepreneurs will now be able to access invaluable support and resources in more parts of the country than ever before. I’m delighted that, thanks to our £13 million investment in the British Library’s Business & IP Centres, this important network is growing from strength to strength.”