Record number of UK libraries open their doors to entrepreneurs on Start-up Day 2019, as new British Library figures show libraries are helping to create 15 new businesses every working day

Speed mentoring at the British Library's Business & IP Centre (c) British Library Board

Today, on Start-Up Day 2019, over 40 public libraries across the UK are opening their doors to aspiring entrepreneurs in a unique day-long programme dedicated to supporting start-ups and small business owners. The annual UK-wide event, led by the British Library’s Business & IP Centre and generously supported by Santander UK, invites people to visit their local library and take the first steps towards turning their brilliant idea into a successful enterprise.

New figures recently released by the British Library reveal that its national network of library-based Business & IP Centres has helped create an average of 15 new businesses every working day since 2016.  Most of these were started at home, with 40% of them beginning in a home office and almost a third from the kitchen table. These new businesses are far exceeding national success rates, with 90% still trading after three years, compared to the UK average of 60%. Start-Up Day is a UK-wide invitation for anyone with a kitchen table idea or side-hustle to discover how their local library can help them launch, protect and successfully grow their business through access to information, confidential one-to-one support, workshops, networking with like-minded entrepreneurs and inspiring talks live-screened from the British Library.

Start-Up Day 2019 sees a record number of UK libraries joining together to support local entrepreneurs, with the total number taking part more than double that of 2018. Alongside the British Library’s Business & IP Centre and its 13 national network partners, two new pilot Centres in Brighton and Worcester will take part, as well as libraries in towns such as Blackpool, Bolton, Barnstaple, Great Yarmouth, Preston and Thetford. In addition, libraries across 10 London boroughs will launch their own Start-Up Day events to engage with as many Londoners as possible. Events include the UK’s biggest nationwide coffee morning for entrepreneurs and live-screenings of selected events from the British Library’s programme.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said:

“As we work towards our vision of expanding the Business & IP Centre network to 20 Centres by 2023, it is invigorating to see so many libraries taking part in this year’s Start-up Day for the first time ever. This nationwide event is not only a celebration of what entrepreneurs can achieve when the barriers to information, expertise and a like-minded community are broken down, but a call to action to anyone who is working tirelessly from their home office or kitchen table to get a business off the ground. We look forward to welcoming those new visitors from around the country today and to supporting them in getting their idea to market.”

Start-Up Day 2019 has a strong emphasis on wellbeing and mental health for entrepreneurs. Highlights of the day include:

  • A session by Mind on how to build a business without burning out, held at the British Library and live-screened to other participating libraries as part of Mind and Heads Together’s Mental Health at Work campaign
  • A panel led by Expert Impact for social or environmentally-minded entrepreneurs, exploring how to combine profit with purpose
  • Business & IP Centre success stories revealing how to start-up on a shoestring

For the complete British Library programme, and to check what is happening in your local library, visit www.bl.uk/events/start-up-day.

Start-Up Day is a partnership between the British Library’s Business & IP Centre and Santander.

Julie Deane, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company and the British Library’s entrepreneur-in-residence, said: "The review of Self Employment in the U.K. which I undertook for the Prime Minister in 2016 revealed that one of the most fundamental issues entrepreneurs face is that of loneliness and feeling the lack of a support structure. The Business & IP Centre network in libraries across the UK addresses this problem and the involvement of MIND in our Start-up Day underlines our commitment to supporting start-ups responsibly and effectively."

Susan Davies, Managing Director of Santander Business said: “The British Library’s network of Business and IP Centres is doing a fantastic job in supporting start-up businesses. We’re excited to be working with them on a three-year partnership to provide SMEs of all sizes, from start-ups to fast-growing businesses with the holistic, local support they need. We are well placed to support these aspiring entrepreneurs in the regions through access to part funded interns, our masterclass events and even trade missions to a number of different countries as part of our International programme.”


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 - www.bl.uk - 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 one million people through the doors, scaled up to 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.


For more information:

Ash Khan
The British Library
t: +44 (0)20 7412 7105
e: ash.khan@bl.uk

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

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