A business hub within Bulwell Riverside Library has played a part in creating more than 570 new businesses and close to 150 jobs across the county in the past three years.

A new report published by the British Library has revealed that the Business and IP Centre (BIPC) network across Nottinghamshire, including centres at libraries in Beeston, Mansfield, Sutton-in-Ashfield and Bulwell, has continued to support entrepreneurship and economic recovery at a local level.

The report, entitled Democratising Entrepreneurship 2.0, covers the period of April 2020 to March 2023 and says that the county’s wider BIPC network:

  • Helped to create 573 new businesses and 148 additional jobs;
  • Generated £8.2m Gross Value Added (GVA) – the amount producers have added to goods and services bought;
  • Supported a range of entrepreneurs, of which 65 per cent were women, 37 per cent from minority ethnic communities, 17 per cent were disabled, 30 per cent aged 35 and under, and 29 per cent from deprived areas.

Nationally, there have been more than 18,000 businesses set up over the past three years, more than 6,000 new jobs and a combined GVA of around £168m.

The BIPC within Bulwell Riverside Library is a physical hub where people can learn, network and access free and low-cost information and support in both protecting and commercialising a business idea. It offers free guidance to start-up business owners, entrepreneurs and inventors across Nottingham and further afield.

A larger local hub will be located inside the new Nottingham Central Library, due to open later this year. The service includes:

  • Free access to high-quality UK and global market intelligence, customer insights and company data, combined with intellectual property advice and guidance;
  • Free and low-cost workshops, one-to-one support and mentoring delivered by library staff and both public and private-sector business experts and partners;
  • Networking events with entrepreneurs;
  • Accessible spaces with access to PCs, desks and wi-fi;
  • A comprehensive package of online support; including webinars and one-to-one business and IP advice sessions.

With the help of BIPC Nottinghamshire, Natalee Onyeche, founder of Skin Solace, turned her handmade plant-based skincare business from a side job into her main income stream and opened a shop in Nottingham.

She said: “The BIPC in the local area has been really brilliant. It’s an invaluable resource because you look at the charges for things like business coaches and sometimes it’s beyond your reach.

“Having the BIPC there and their huge amount of resources has been a godsend to me. If I need some information, I can go to them and get that support. Having that available for free in my local community is brilliant. It’s on my doorstep, literally.”

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “Nottingham has a rich tradition of industry and entrepreneurship with global brands such as Raleigh and Boots originating on our doorstep. 

“This report demonstrates that with the support of the Business & IP Centre, a new generation of aspiring entrepreneurs can access the information and support they need to turn their ideas into reality.”

Terranum Abbas, Service Manager for Nottingham City Libraries, said: “Supporting the local economy is a key part of our offer as a service. This report cements the position of libraries as a place where people from all backgrounds can access information, expert mentoring and networking to help them explore and develop their business ideas in a friendly, accessible environment. We are proud to be part of the Business & IP Centre network.”

Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Audiences at the British Library, said: “July 2023 marks 50 years since the British Library first began operations, and helping businesses to innovate and grow continues to be one of the Library’s core purposes.

“This report reiterates the unique power of libraries as engines of innovation, economic growth and social mobility in the heart of diverse communities.

“Whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur, freelancer or just have an idea, the Business & IP Centre network provides accessible, free and impartial support, delivered by dedicated informed professionals and trusted business experts, both online and in person across the UK.”

Arts and Heritage Minister, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, said: “I am delighted that the £13 million of public investment from the Government has enabled the British Library’s Business & IP Centre network to equip thousands of people across the country with the knowledge, skills and support they need to start and grow their own business.

“Helping people turn ideas into thriving businesses is part of our ambitious plan to maximise the potential of the creative industries and create jobs, opportunities and economic growth across the county.”

The first BIPC opened at the British Library in St Pancras, London in 2006 and the nationwide BIPC Network was established in 2012, with support from the Intellectual Property Office.

Following a £13 million investment from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2020, the BIPC Network expanded to more than 100 locations, reaching people who are under-represented in business in more urban, rural and coastal locations than ever before. The full Democratising Entrepreneurship 2.0 report, including a range of case studies, can be downloaded from the British Library’s website here.