Bristol Libraries joins forces with British Library to support small businesses

Bristol Libraries joins forces with British Library to support small businesses

A centre set up to support new businesses has been launched at Bristol’s Central Library.

17 November 2021

The Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC), officially opened by Mayor Marvin Rees, will help people from all walks of life to start and grow a small business with free resources, confidential one-to-one support, advice clinics and workshops. It is part of the British Library’s growing national network of over 100 regional and local library-based Business and IP Centres across the UK.

Following an injection of funding last year to expand the network, Bristol City Council has been allocated almost £500,000 to establish a regional Business and IP Centre at Bristol Central Library, with three smaller local centres at branch libraries (Southmead, Junction 3 and Knowle library) to follow in 2022.

The grant has funded specialist staff, building refurbishment and equipment, and access to thousands of pounds worth of specialised business and market-research resources, databases and reports.

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries, said: “Business and IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background.

“We know that Bristol is full of people with great ideas, and we want to help turn those ideas into a reality.

“The centre will be working in partnership with local business leaders and entrepreneurs to provide the best possible source of information and support to help get a small business off the ground and allow it to flourish.

“I am really excited that Bristol had become a part of this network, and I cannot wait to see what businesses are created.”

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
  • created businesses twice as likely to succeed beyond three years

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. While each centre, including BIPC Bristol, 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. 

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library, says:

“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.”

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