Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced his support for a £1.2 million project to turn 6 libraries into new ‘innovation incubators’ and see them roll-out business support to towns and villages across the country.
Supported by the British Library and Arts Council England, the scheme will see leading figures from the world of business provide mentoring services to 6 centres, set up in city libraries, that will enable people to start new business ventures and become the next generation of Lord Sugars and Kanya Kings.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will fund £600,000 for a new Enterprising Libraries project over 2 years. It will support libraries to help those taking their first steps in the business world, from the first spark of inspiration to successfully launching and developing a business.
The funding will focus on enabling libraries in 6 of our major cities to support local libraries in communities across the country to help increase their business and intellectual property capacity. Libraries in towns and cities will be able to partner with these 6 patent-holding city libraries, bringing the capacity of the British Library to the local high street and extend support to groups which would otherwise not benefit from access to such powerful business resources. Funding will be allocated to local library services through competition, which will foster innovation and new partnerships.
The Enterprising Libraries scheme builds upon the success of the British Library’s Business & IP Centre (Business & Intellectual Property Centre) which has been offering these services since 2006. It has run over 4,000 workshops which have already helped to create over 2,700 businesses and more than 3,300 jobs.
These businesses have increased their turnover by £153 million with an average turnover increase per £1 invested of £8.80. Many of those successful entrepreneurs return to pass on their experience to the next budding crop of business leaders.
Enterprising Libraries seeks to spread this benefit across the country, using the strengths of England’s public libraries network to reach into every community, especially those that are often excluded from business support.
Arts Council England and the British Library are co-funding the project allocating £300,000 each over a 2-year period. Enterprising Libraries will enable libraries in communities to host seminars, one-to-one advice sessions and networking events that will include access to dedicated specialist support staff and patent lawyers to provide high-quality research for low cost.
Libraries have always been a powerful motor of social mobility. Enterprising Libraries restates that mission for the 21st Century, demonstrating how libraries provide the information and knowledge necessary for entrepreneurs to get their business ideas flying, no matter where they live.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
“This fantastic project deserves government support. It will give communities business support and turn town and village libraries into incubators of innovation. By expanding the pool of entrepreneurial talent and reaching every community it will lead to the creation of more businesses, more jobs and ultimately contribute to economic growth across the country.
“Patent offices and chambers of commerce can be intimidating places for people not used to formal business environments. Libraries are welcoming and much-loved by their communities and these new centres mean that a library card will now get you more than just books: it could launch a brand-new career.”
Roly Keating, CEO of the British Library said:
“With our partner libraries in Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and Sheffield, the British Library has a vision for a national network of innovation and intellectual property support that will boost the entrepreneurial drive and success of the UK. We are delighted to receive this support from the Department for Communities Local Government and the Arts Council England which will help to make this vision a reality.”
Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said:
“Initial findings from the Arts Council’s research ‘Envisioning the library of the future’, due to be published in the Spring, indicates the real potential of libraries being able to bring communities together and support economic growth. Working in partnership with DCLG and the British Library we will provide opportunities for local libraries to partner up with an already experienced infrastructure to support business start-ups in the creative industries sector.”