Isabel Oswell awarded BEM in the 2020 New Year Honours

Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Audiences, British Library.
Isabel Oswell, the British Library’s Head of Business Audiences, has received the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) in the 2020 New Year Honours. The BEM has been awarded to Isabel for services to public libraries and entrepreneurship.

Isabel is responsible for the British Library’s strategy and services for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), having joined the British Library in 2002. She played an instrumental role in setting up the Business & IP Centre (BIPC) at the Library’s main site at St Pancras in 2006. The Centre, which works in partnership with the public and private sector, supports people from all walks of life to research, establish and scale up successful businesses by giving them access to free and affordable business information, training, advice, networking and mentoring.

Building on its track record supporting start-ups in London, the Library has since established a national network of fourteen Centres in city libraries (and in some towns) across the UK. The BIPC National Network has been particularly successful in supporting people who are under-represented in business such as women, people from a black and Asian minority ethnic background and people with disabilities.

Prior to joining the British Library Isabel worked at EY, having developed her career in the professional services and technology sectors, including BT Global, OneSource Information Services, Bain & Company and Lotus Development.  As well as working in large global companies, she has also worked in a small number of start-ups and SMEs.

 “I was thrilled to receive this honour, which I feel reflects the impact we’ve made with the Business & IP Centre over the past fourteen years,” said Isabel Oswell. “The fact that the BIPC and the growing National Network has helped thousands of people, from all walks of life, to launch and expand viable new businesses has been a reward in itself. To receive this extra recognition is both a welcome surprise and a reflection of the work of the amazing team at the British Library and across the Network who are passionate about democratising entrepreneurship across the UK.”


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Notes to Editors

The Business & IP Centre opened at the British Library in March 2006 with the help of London Development Agency funding. Since then, it has welcomed over one million people through the doors, scaled up to a National Network of 14 Centres located in major libraries across the UK, as well as to libraries across ten London boroughs and helped to create thousands of businesses and new jobs. The Centre provides entrepreneurs and SMEs with a free and low-cost programme of workshops, one-to-ones, networking events and inspiring talks from high-profile entrepreneurs as well as intellectual property advice and access to high value databases, including global company and financial information and market research reports worth over £5 million.

An independent report Democratising Entrepreneurship, published by the British Library in July 2019, detailed how, over a three-year period, the BIPC National Network helped to create 12,288 new businesses and 7,843 additional jobs, along with £78 million gross value added for Business & IP Centre supported businesses.

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