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Norfolk libraries announce record year for supporting local businesses

Norfolk County Council, 15 July 2022 00:00

In the past year, the Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Norfolk, managed by Norfolk Library & Information Service, had a strong track record of supporting local entrepreneurs to start, manage and expand successful small businesses.

From April 2021 to March 2022, over 700 attendees received free business support from the Centre. 36% of these attendees were aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business and 27% were looking to grow an existing business. Additionally, there was a 180% increase in people receiving support from the Centre during this period.

Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) are part of a national network of over 100 regional and local Centres, led by the British Library. Each Centre, including BIPC Norfolk, is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases. These core resources are brought to life by BIPC Norfolk's tailored and highly individual programme of events, networking opportunities, workshops and one-to-ones, delivered in collaboration with local business leaders, role model entrepreneurs and community partners.

BIPC Norfolk events range from helping keen crafters turn their hobby into a business, to a Summer School starting at the end of July. The online Summer School is aimed at 16-25-year-olds to give them an idea of what's required to start a business. Each week's session, from Thursday 28 July to Thursday 1 September, will cover a different topic, and participants will have the chance to ask questions throughout. There will also be the opportunity to hear from a successful young business owner about their experience of starting and running a business.

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities and partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: "By basing support for starting and running a business in Norfolk libraries, we are making it more accessible. As well as holding more business-related activities in our libraries, we're also continuing with a strong online offering as it can often be more convenient, especially in a rural county.

"Our free online Summer School will give younger people from across Norfolk the chance to learn about starting their own business. Even if it isn't quite right for them now, it'll give them an insight into the skills and aptitudes required and may pique their interest enough to choose business as an option for further studies."

The support available at BIPCs can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. Consistently, over half of those who use a BIPC to set up a business are women, 14% have a disability, and a third are from under-represented ethnic backgrounds. More than triple the national averages for business ownership in the UK, this diverse user base speaks to the accessibility and community-based ethos of this library-based support.

Last year, BIPC Norfolk expanded its presence in the county by adding three more BIPC Locals in Cromer, Wroxham and Wymondham libraries. This was part of a wider national expansion of library-based business support from 14 BIPCs to over 100 regional and local Centres across England, including in Norfolk, thanks to £13 million in government funding awarded to the British Library.

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian, British Library, said: "At their heart, libraries are trusted spaces with professional staff who have a mission to connect people with information. From Glasgow to Brighton, our Business & IP Centres harness 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.

Over the last year, the BIPC network has hugely outperformed its growth targets and helped to safeguard thousands of jobs through the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. We know that businesses started with the support of our libraries are nearly twice as likely to survive beyond three years than the national average. These remarkable results are living proof of the part libraries can and are playing towards boosting their local economies."

To find out more about how BIPC Norfolk can help you start and run a business,

All BIPC Norfolk events, including the Summer School, are bookable on Eventbrite at

Notes to Editors

The British Library

We are the national library of the UK and we are here for everyone. Our shelves hold over 170 million items - a living collection that gets bigger every day. Although our roots extend back centuries, we aim to collect everything published in the UK today, tomorrow and far into the future. Our trusted experts care for this collection and open it up for everyone to spark new discoveries, ideas and to help people do incredible things.

We have millions of books, and much more besides. Our London and Yorkshire sites hold collections ranging from newspapers and maps to sound recordings, patents, academic journals, as well as a copy of every UK domain website and blog. Our public spaces provide a place to research, to meet friends, to start up a new business or simply to get inspired by visiting our galleries and events. We work with partners and libraries across the UK and the world to make sure that as many people as possible have the chance to use and explore our collections, events and expertise. And we're always open online, along with more and more of our digitised collection.

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.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:43

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