13 February 2017

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are set to benefit from a unique new service designed to enable people to protect, research and commercialise their ideas.

The new Business & Intellectual Property (IP) Centre in Northamptonshire Central Library is one of ten centres across the UK. It is modelled on the successful British Library Business & IP Centre in London and allows entrepreneurs to take advantage of free intellectual property and business information and expertise.

The Business & IP Centre model has proven successful in helping businesses thrive and survive. An independent report found only one in ten companies helped by the London Business & IP Centre fails after year three, compared with four in ten across the UK.

New start-ups

Over the past two years, Northamptonshire libraries have supported over 670 potential business owners and entrepreneurs, of which 64% are owned by women, 26% by young people aged 16-35 and 23% had previously been unemployed before starting their business. This has led to the creation of 140 new businesses during this time.

Following a refurbishment of the first floor space in Central Library, the Business & IP Centre now provides a space for entrepreneurs to come together to network, attend workshops and events and access a wealth of resources including business databases, Mintel market research reports, company data and information on patents, trademarks, designs and copyright.

The Business & IP Centre officially launched on 10th February, with Northamptonshire’s budding entrepreneurs, start-ups and business owners attending a packed event to learn about the facilities and services on offer.

Maria Krupasova, founder of Maria’s Coffee and Cake on Northampton High St, attended the launch to talk about her own experiences, from setting up her business to becoming recognised as Best New Business at the SME Northamptonshire Business Awards 2016.

Ms Krupasova said: “There are highs and lows in running your own business, it isn’t always easy. But one of the biggest highs for me was winning the New Business of the Year award. The help I got to start my business was really valuable – and free – and I would encourage anyone thinking of starting their own business to take advantage of this support.”

Workshops and events

Qualified and experienced staff at the library are geared up to provide local businesses and entrepreneurs with patent clinics, monthly meetings and one-to-one advice. The services are also available at Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough libraries, in partnership with local support organisations across the county, offering specialist workshops and events and connecting users to other relevant local business support services.

Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing Cllr Sylvia Hughes said: “I’m delighted that Northamptonshire libraries has been able to support so many budding entrepreneurs to get their new businesses up and running thanks to the invaluable advice and support now available through our Business and IP Centre.

“We’re very excited to be working with the British Library and, with a new networking and work space at Northampton Central Library now open, I hope even more prospective small business owners will contact their local library to find out more about the help available.”

Dr Paul Blantern, chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council and chairman of the National Libraries Taskforce, said: “One of the seven outcomes in the national libraries strategy ‘Ambition for Public Libraries in England’ is to help deliver greater prosperity within our communities. This work between public libraries and the British Library is one of the key initiatives behind that strategy and demonstrates the important role for libraries in the 21st century.”

The first British Library Business & IP Centre opened in London in 2006. Since then it has helped more than 500,000 entrepreneurs and helped create an average of 550 businesses and 1,200 jobs every year.

Based on a successful pilot in Newcastle, the Library is expanding its national network. The network is supported by the UK Intellectual Property Office and has been part-funded through the Department for Communities & Local Government and Arts Council England ‘Enterprising Libraries’ programme, which is transforming libraries into enterprise hubs in their local communities.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library said: “The success of the Business & IP Centre model is evidence of the strong connection between libraries and business, and I’m thrilled to see this link reinforced again with the opening of a new Centre for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Northamptonshire Library.

“Our vision is to create 20 such Business & IP Centres by the end of the decade, and I look forward to working with our city library partners to achieve this goal and to spearhead business growth and innovation in cities across the UK.”

Northamptonshire libraries are delivered by First for Wellbeing on behalf of Northamptonshire County Council.

Find out more

Find out more about the services on offer at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/businesslibrary or follow Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire on Twitter @BIPCNorthants.