British Library’s Business & IP Centre helps create over 12,000 new businesses across the UK since 2016

New figures released by the British Library's Business & IP Centre reveal the economic impact of its work since 2016 (c) British Library Board

Figures released today by the British Library reveal the extraordinary impact its work supporting the UK’s aspiring entrepreneurs is having on the national economy and small business landscape. The independent report shows that over a three-year period, the Library’s National Network of 12 Business & IP Centres located in major UK libraries, helped to create:

  • 12,288 new businesses, an average of 15 new businesses every working day
  • 7,843 additional jobs
  • A boost to local economies: £78million gross value added for Business & IP Centre supported businesses
  • An impressive return on public investment: £6.95 for every £1 of public money spent

Breaking down barriers

Between January 2016 and December 2018, the Business & IP Centres supported 43,000 people through direct face-to-face support, including a free programme of mentoring, training and intellectual property advice available to everyone via their local city or town library. This personalised, accessible approach is breaking through traditional barriers to starting and growing a successful business, reaching people who are under-represented in the business community. Of those who started a new business with us:

  • 55% are women – over twice the national average
  • 31% are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background - over six times the national average
  • 17% are people with a disability
  • 47% are based in the North of England
  • 29% are aged 35 and under
  • 22% are from the most deprived areas of the UK
  • Two-thirds are driven by making a social or environmental impact

Businesses that have started with the libraries’ help continue to demonstrate impressively strong survival rates. On average, over 40% of businesses fail after their first year of trading, yet of businesses started with the National Network’s support between 2012 and 2018, nine in ten were still trading in 2019.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: “This report shows that libraries are driving the UK’s regional and small business economy by equipping anyone, no matter what their background is, with the tools and expertise needed to become their own boss. We look forward to partnering with even more libraries up and down the UK to create innovative hubs for aspiring entrepreneurs, as we work towards our goal of opening 20 Business & IP Centres by 2023 and expanding business support to high streets via branch libraries”.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “I am delighted that the work of the British Library is having a real impact in communities across the UK.  Their network of Business & Intellectual Property Centres is helping to deliver the skills and training people of all backgrounds need to succeed.  By breaking down the barriers to women, black, Asian and minority ethnic groups looking to start up new businesses, the British Library is helping everyone to expand their ideas and grow our economy. I congratulate all involved on this achievement."

Tim Moss, Chief Executive of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, said: “The Business & IP Centre usage report reveals positive statistics on the percentage of growing businesses who have benefitted directly from IP support via the BIPC network. These successes demonstrate the effectiveness of the collaboration between the Intellectual Property Office and the British Library. It has made IP information easier to access at a local level through the regional BIPC centres.”

Jennifer Lam, CEO & Co-Founder of Stitch & Story, said: “The Business & IP Centre helped me elevate Stitch & Story from a kitchen table start-up to a global exporter and retailer. When I started Stitch & Story, I knew we had winning products but had no idea how to scale beyond our primary market in the UK and desperately needed advice on refining our business model, marketing strategy and on seeking investment. I left the Centre feeling equipped and empowered to scale our business in new markets and seek investment. Two years on, I secured our first angel funding and we have now sold over 300,000 products, working with major brands in over 50 counties. Last year, my co-founder, Jen Hoang, and I became the faces of the UK government’s ‘Exporting is Great’ campaign. The Centre’s expertise is first-class and it is an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs like me.”

Notes to Editors

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 - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

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 750,000 people through the doors 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 and networking events 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.

For more information:

Ash Khan
The British Library

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+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

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