Specialist library-based centres to support local entrepreneurs in Nottinghamshire have reported a record year after giving more than 1,000 instances of free business support to Nottingham’s start-up and small businesses owners – over half of them women.
Business & IP Centre Nottinghamshire (BIPC) has seen a dramatic increase in activity, with 469 instances of business support delivered between January and March 2022 alone, following the recruitment of a team of advisors and recent openings of four BIPC locals in Bulwell, Beeston, Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield libraries.
BIPCs support local entrepreneurs to start, manage and expand successful small businesses, and from March 2021 to March 2022, over 1,000 attendees received free business support from the Nottinghamshire Centre. 39% of these attendees were aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business and 53% were looking to grow an existing business.
The direct face-to-face support available at BIPCs can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. Consistently, over half of those who use a BIPC to set up a business are women, 14% have a disability, 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.
The Nottinghamshire Business & IP Centres, led by Nottingham City Council Library Service working with Inspire, is part of a national network of over 100 regional and local Centres working with the British Library.
Each Centre, including Nottinghamshire, is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases. These core resources are brought to life by BIPC Nottinghamshire’s tailored and highly individual programme of events, networking opportunities, workshops and one-to-ones, delivered in collaboration with local business leaders, role model entrepreneurs and community partners such as Potter Clarkson, Rogers Spencer, Summit Creative and Smorgasbord.
Last year the success of Nottinghamshire was expanded to Bulwell, Mansfield, Beeston and Sutton-in-Ashfield libraries. This was part of a wider national expansion of library-based business support from 14 BIPCs to over 100 regional and local Centres across England, including in Nottinghamshire, thanks to £13million in Government funding awarded to the British Library.
Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian, 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 Business & IP Centres harness 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.
“Over the last year, the BIPC network has hugely outperformed its growth targets and helped to safeguard thousands of jobs through the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. We know that businesses started with the support of our libraries are nearly twice as likely to survive beyond three years than the national average. These remarkable results are living proof of the part libraries can and are playing towards boosting their local economies.”
Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning at Nottingham City Council,said: “With the recent launch of our BIPC local in Bulwell, it is exciting and positive that libraries can now play a new role in terms of harnessing the potential of businesses and make an important contribution to economic regeneration. It now is up to us to make the most of the great resources available through our BIPC local and encourage as many people as possibly to take advantage of what they can offer. We are delighted our offer has now expanded to Nottinghamshire and look forward to sharing the BIPC programme with Inspire Libraries so we can bring our strategies and service offerings closer together.
“There’s no such person as a typical entrepreneur. Coming through the doors of our libraries are people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Expectant mothers, young people, elderly people, those who are out of work, people with disabilities, graduates, those with no qualifications at all. Anyone with a business idea – irrespective of their circumstance or background – is welcome to use our services and get help to get started or grow.”