Press release

Library funding boost to help more entrepreneurs

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Enterprising Libraries across the country will receive over £650,000 to support entrepreneurs.

In a funding boost Enterprising Libraries across the country will receive over £650,000 to support entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and help them get started in business.

As part of this government’s long-term economic plan Enterprising Libraries turn library spaces into hotbeds for business ideas that can drive local economic growth.

Since its launch, Enterprising Libraries have set up scores of innovative businesses and hundreds of new jobs.

Using the strength of the public libraries network to reach into every community, Enterprising Libraries provide coaching, advice, meeting spaces, and IT support to people interested in developing a business proposal and bringing it to market.

The programme, launched in 2013, runs in 16 libraries across the country including Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham.

The success of the British Library’s own Business & IP Centre (Business & Intellectual Property Centre) service is evidence that libraries have an important role to play in helping small firms to innovate and grow: the London Centre has helped to create 2,775 businesses and an additional 3,345 jobs in new and existing companies from 2005 to 2012.

Overall, these businesses increased their turnover by £153 million, which subsequently meant a contribution of £47.1 million in gross value added to London’s economy (Source: Adroit Economics, based on Seven Up Census, April 2012).

Libraries also have a strong record of attracting communities from a wide range of backgrounds; an estimated 41% of Enterprising Libraries participants are women, 38% are from black and minority ethnic groups and 10% are currently unemployed.

The new funding will help the libraries to develop the services they provide budding entrepreneurs and focus on bringing their expertise into hard to reach communities.

Eric Pickles at the British Library
Eric Pickles at the British Library

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

The formal business environment can be an intimidating place, but it needn’t be. Enterprising Libraries give people from all backgrounds the opportunity to go and get free expert advice from their library, and receive the support they need to make the most of their great ideas.

Local communities are untapped business resources – filled with capable and bright individuals who just need a helping hand. By extending the Enterprising Libraries funding today, we can help grow Britain’s ever expanding pool of entrepreneurial talent and ensuring that local economic growth is supported across the country.

The Enterprising Libraries grant programme was a £1.2 million project launched in 2013 in a partnership between the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Arts Council England and the British Library.

Originally it supported 6 core city libraries but due to its success the programme was awarded an additional £450,000 to extended it to support a further 10.

Brian Ashley, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England, said:

Libraries are an important part of all our lives, bringing communities together and also providing a vital hub for knowledge and information exchange. The success of the Business & IP Centres illustrates their important role in providing business support to those communities and we are pleased to be able to continue to support this work. This additional funding will build on the success of the Enterprising Libraries programme, sustaining the impact of this project to support more entrepreneurs across England.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said:

Public libraries are of huge value to local communities. As familiar and trusted public places, and access points to vast amounts of free information, libraries also have powerful potential as engines of innovation and growth.

As outlined in the Living Knowledge vision published earlier this year, our ambition is to open 20 Business & IP Centres in public libraries across the UK by 2020.

It is hugely exciting to welcome the library teams in Exeter and Northamptonshire into the Business & IP Centre network, and I extend our thanks to both the Department for Communities and Local Government and Arts Council England for enabling us to take another key step towards our goal.

Further information

The Enterprising Libraries commissioned grant programme is being extended in partnership with DCLG providing £300,000, the Arts Council providing £100,000 and the British Library £253,000 worth in both in cash and resource equivalent.

A recent success stories of the Business & IP Centre network is Arit Eminue, Founder and Director of DiVA, who started up a business enabling young people to secure apprenticeships and internships in the creative industries.

Arit’s clients include 20th Century Fox and Studio Canal, and she is using the London Business & IP Centre for advice on how to broaden her client reach and grow her cash flow.

Office address and general enquiries

2 Marsham Street


Media enquiries