Nottingham and Nottinghamshire libraries are playing a leading role in helping the city and county recover economically following the pandemic. Thanks to support from the British Library and Department for Culture, Media and Sport, people of all ages and walks of life across the city and county can access support to start and grow their businesses via a range of free online events and resources.

The British Library has announced a major expansion of its highly successful network of library-based Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) to over 100 regional and local libraries across England by 2023, including in Beeston, Bulwell, Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Following last year’s pledge of £13million in Treasury funding towards the expansion, BIPC Nottingham has been allocated £704,673 to equip four libraries across the city and county with Business & IP Centre spaces, resources and services by 2023, building on the proven support already available from BIPC Nottingham.  BIPC Nottingham is part of Nottingham City Libraries and is pleased to be working with libraries in Nottinghamshire County (delivered by Inspire Culture, Learning and Libraries) to make this support accessible to people around the county in the coming months.

The BIPC network has a notably strong track record of supporting people from all walks of life to start, protect and grow a successful business. 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 (Gross Value Added) 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 a business idea, regardless of their background. 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 including BIPC Nottingham is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, provided by the British Library, 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.

While the new BIPC local sites in Beeston, Bulwell, Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield are yet to open, support for local businesses via BIPC Nottingham continues online as it has throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, offering a range of resources to help people research their next steps, plus one-to-one support including an Intellectual Property Clinic.  The Reset. Restart programme, 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 and delivered locally by East Midlands-based business experts Smorgasbord Business Ltd., has supported over 80 businesses across the region in the first two months of delivery, through one-to-one sessions and a programme of webinars.

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.

Councillor Eunice Campbell-Clark, Nottingham City Council Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Schools, said: “Libraries are uniquely placed to support people from all walks of life in achieving their goals and we are delighted to be able to make more support available to business start-ups across the city and beyond thanks to this funding from DCMS.  The British Library’s Business & IP Network nationally has demonstrated the value of libraries as economic enablers and it is exciting to see this programme being opened up to the people of Nottingham, with small businesses being such a crucial part of boosting the local economy as we move forward after Covid-19.”

Councillor John Cottee, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council Communities Committee, said: “I’m really pleased that in partnership with the British Library and City libraries, three Inspire libraries (Beeston, Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield) will be established as Business and IP centres to support local business and our recovery from the 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 1-1s 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.”