Start up city: The British Library’s Business & IP Centre celebrates ten years of helping Londoners realise their dreams


  • ComRes survey shows 70% of Londoners have had a dream or idea to start their own business and lack of knowledge or confidence is the main reason Londoners don’t act on their ideas
  • The Business & IP Centre to host all day anniversary event for budding entrepreneurs as Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, congratulates the Centre on its work 
  • Julie Deane of Cambridge Satchel Company to deliver key note speech as Entrepreneur in Residence 

As the Business & IP Centre marks a decade of supporting start-ups, new research commissioned by the Library shows an overwhelming majority of Londoners (70%) have had an idea for a new business venture or dream of being an entrepreneur. The survey also shows that Londoners from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background are 20% more likely to dream of starting their own business than white Londoners, a finding reflected in the Business & IP Centre’s own user demographics, with 42% of users coming from minority BAME groups.

The research shows that it is lack of confidence and/or knowledge that is the biggest factor holding people back (57%), coming ahead of even financial constraints and commitments. The Centre directly addresses this lack of confidence and knowledge, offering free access to an unparalleled resource of business and intellectual property information and expertise, supplemented by a regular programme of practical workshops, one-to-one advice sessions and inspiring talks and events. The Business & IP Centre also coordinates a growing network of Centres in city libraries around the UK.

Since opening its doors in 2006, the Business & IP Centre has helped 500,000 aspiring business owners, including Anthony Lau, the founder of Cyclehoop, Shaun Pulfrey, the founder of Tangle Teezer, and Helen Pattison, co-founder of Montezuma Chocolates.

The majority of the Business & IP Centre users are women; latest figures show that 60% of the Centre’s aspiring entrepreneurs are female. Notable women who have used the Centre’s resources include Kanya King, founder of MOBO, Kathryn Parsons, founder of Decoded and Emma Stewart, co-founder of Women like Us.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, said: “Entrepreneurs and founders are and always have been central to London’s thriving economy and future success, creating and supporting thousands of jobs and creating innovative new businesses that benefit the economy and consumers. Over the past decade, the British Library’s Business and IP Centre has helped to nurture a vast array of entrepreneurs, helping them to turn their incredible business ideas into reality. I am particularly pleased that the centre has been able to assist so many female entrepreneurs, who often face unnecessary barriers when it comes to launching their own business. London is always open to talent and innovation and I would like to wish the centre the very best as it supports the next generation of great business minds.”

Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Audiences at the British Library said “It is clear from this survey that many people are sitting at home or in an office dreaming of being their own boss and wondering where to start. As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we’re encouraging every person nurturing a start-up idea to come and see us here in St Pancras so that we can help them turn their idea into a viable business.”

To celebrate the successes of the last decade, and to encourage all those dreaming of running their own business to take the first step, the Business & IP Centre will be holding a special birthday celebration on 27 September at which budding entrepreneurs can come along and have a special 1-2-1 session with a business expert and network with business insiders. Newly announced Entrepreneur in Residence Julie Deane, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company will be giving advice on the day as well as a lunchtime talk. A series of free workshops will also be taking place throughout the day.

Julie Deane said of her role as Entrepreneur in Residence “I am thrilled that I can play a part in supporting the transformation of libraries into places where people - from all walks of life – can access the information and support to start and grow a successful business and so help the next generation of entrepreneurs.” 

Notes to Editors

  • ComRes interviewed 1,024 British adults living in London online between 5th and 11th September 2016. Data were weighted to be representative of all London adults by age, gender, region, ethnicity, working status and tenure. Full data tables are available at www.comresglobal.com
  • The British Library Business & IP Centre, based at St Pancras in London, opened in March 2006 with the help of London Development Agency funding. Since then, it has welcomed over 500,000 people through the doors and has an excellent track record in supporting entrepreneurs to start and grow a business.
  • The British Library Business & IP Centre has 8 National Network Centres around the UK. More information here.
  • Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company was announced as Entrepreneur in Residence in September 2016. The Cambridge Satchel Company is the original satchel company founded in 2008 by Julie Deane OBE and her mother Freda Thomas. Having invested just £600 to get the idea off the ground, the company has become a worldwide phenomenon, committed to preserving British manufacturing.
  • The Business & IP Centre 10th anniversary celebrations take place on Tuesday 27 September, with a Start-up Day of networking events, workshops and talks. More information here.
  • The project has received £1.33million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding

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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.