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British Library enhances small business support, growing BIPC Network from 14 to over 100 libraries

British Library to turbocharge small business support on the high street, growing Business & IP Centre network from 14 to over 100 libraries.

British Library to turbocharge small business support on the high street, growing Business & IP Centre network from 14 to over 100 libraries.

The British Library is growing its highly successful network of library-based Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) to over 100 regional and local libraries across England, including in Grimsby, Sunderland and a prison library in Birmingham.

Enabled by a major investment of £13million announced by the Chancellor last year, the expansion will equip dozens of regional and local libraries with Business & IP Centre spaces, resources and services by 2023, building on the British Library’s network of small business support already available in 14 city centre libraries across the UK.

The BIPC network has a notably strong track record of supporting people from all walks of life to start, protect and grow successful businesses. In just three years it has:

  • Supported the creation of over 12,000 new businesses

  • Led to the creation of over 7,800 new jobs

  • Generated an extra £78million GVA to the UK economy

  • Created businesses twice as likely to succeed beyond three years

Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with an idea. Consistently, over 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 this library-based support. While each Centre is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, they are 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, almost a quarter 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. Over 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 affected.

This significant expansion begins as the British Library marks ten years since piloting the first Business & IP Centre outside London in 2011, at Newcastle City Library. In the past decade, BIPC Newcastle has:

  • Supported over 14,000 new and growing businesses

  • Safeguarded approx. 600 local jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic

This month sees the service rebrand as BIPC North East, expanding to local libraries in Berwick, Morpeth, Hexham, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland. Elsewhere in the North East, Tees Valley will open a new regional Centre at Stockton Central Library, with potential to extend across the Tees Valley to local libraries in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage, says: "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."

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library, says: “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 1-1s are open to everyone online.”

Existing (in bold) and confirmed new Business & IP Centre locations by 2023*

*Please note that the full expansion includes, but is not limited to, the locations named below

Birmingham (Library of Birmingham)

  • Acocks Green

  • Handsworth

  • Mobile Library

  • Prison Library

  • South Yardley

  • Sutton Coldfield

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough (Cambridge Central Library)

  • Ely

  • Huntingdon

  • Peterborough

  • Wisbech

Devon (Exeter Library)

  • Barnstaple

  • Okehampton

  • Paignton

  • Seaton

Glasgow (Mitchell Library)

Greater Manchester (Manchester Central Library)

  • Blackpool

  • Bolton

  • Bury

  • Lancaster

  • Oldham

  • Salford

  • Stockport

  • Tameside

  • Trafford

Humber Partnership (Hull Central Library)

  • Bridlington

  • Beverley

  • Goole

  • Grimsby

Kent (Maidstone Library)

  • Deal

  • Whitstable

  • Sandwich

Leeds City Region (Leeds Central Library)

  • Bradford

  • Calderdale

  • Kirklees

  • Wakefield

Liverpool City Region (Liverpool Central Library)

  • Allerton

  • Birkenhead (Wirral)

  • Crosby

  • Huyton (Knowsley)

  • Spellow

  • St Helens

London (British Library) + workshops across ten London boroughs

  • Waltham Forest (Leytonstone Library)

Please note that this Centre is launching as a result of local authority investment, separately to the Treasury investment

Norfolk (Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library)

  • Cromer

  • Great Yarmouth

  • King's Lynn

  • Thetford

  • Wroxham

  • Wymondham

North East (Newcastle City Library)

  • Berwick

  • Hexham

  • Morpeth

  • North Tyneside

  • South Tyneside

  • Sunderland

Northamptonshire (Central Library)

  • Brixworth

  • Kettering

  • Towcester

  • Wellingborough

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

  • Beeston

  • Bulwell Riverside

  • Mansfield

  • Sutton-in-Ashfield

Regional Centre to be part of new Nottingham Central Library, once open

Oxfordshire (Oxfordshire County Library)

  • Banbury

  • Bicester

  • Henley

  • Wantage

South Yorkshire (Sheffield Central Library)

  • Barnsley

  • Doncaster

  • Rotherham

  • Sheffield Crystal Peaks

Sussex (Jubilee Library, Brighton)

  • Crawley Library

Tees Valley (Stockton Central Library)

Worcestershire (The Hive)

  • Bromsgrove

  • Evesham

  • Kidderminster

  • Malvern

  • Redditch


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