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New British Library report confirms Norfolk libraries are an engine of economic recovery and growth

Norfolk County Council, 14 July 2023 00:00

Between April 2020 and March 2023, Business & IP Centre Norfolk managed by Norfolk Library & Information Service:

  • Helped to create 390 new businesses and 99 additional jobs
  • Generated £4,843,534 Gross Value Added (GVA)
  • Supported a range of entrepreneurs, of which 84% were women, 11% identified themselves as from a minority ethnic community, 19% were disabled, 25% were aged 35 and under and 17% were from the most deprived areas

Published by the British Library, Democratising Entrepreneurship 2.0 reveals the national impact the Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Network has had over a three-year period from April 2020 to March 2023. The report shows how BIPC Norfolk has continued to support entrepreneurship and economic recovery at a local level, contributing to a payback of £6.63 for every £1 of public money spent across the BIPC Network.

BIPC Norfolk and its network of BIPC Locals in libraries in Cromer, Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn, Thetford, Wroxham and Wymondham are physical hubs where people can learn, network and access free and low-cost information and support in protecting and commercialising a business idea. The service comprises:

  • Free access to high-quality UK and global market intelligence, customer insights and company data (worth over £5m), combined with intellectual property (IP) advice and guidance
  • Free workshops, one-to-one support and mentoring delivered by library staff and public/private sector business experts and partners
  • Topical and inspirational networking events, featuring role model entrepreneurs
  • Accessible and welcoming spaces with access to PCs, desks, meeting rooms, co-working areas and Wi-Fi
  • A comprehensive package of online support; including webinars and one-to-one business and IP advice sessions

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: "This British Library report underlines the importance of libraries and the diverse role they play in enhancing our communities. As a library service, we have always been very aware of the challenges facing business start-ups in a rural area and BIPC Norfolk has been an essential part of our support for local businesses and entrepreneurs since 2014.

"The funding over the last three years has enabled us to expand that support, evidenced by the fact that we helped to create 390 new businesses during that period - 87% more than the previous three years.

"Our libraries in Norfolk are trusted and welcoming spaces so are ideally placed for people to access information and resources to help them start and run a business in the county."

With the help of BIPC Norfolk, Monique Branston launched her new business Up 'N' Mellow, a range of instant fruit and nut porridge, in May this year. Monique said: "The idea came about when I became nostalgic for peanut porridge, my favourite porridge as a child growing up in Jamaica. After shopping around and not being able to find it, I decided to create my own instant recipe that people can enjoy on the go.

"Being able to access free practical tips, advice and information from BIPC Norfolk has been so useful in starting my business. I attended a range of in-person and online events, including one-to-one guidance on protecting intellectual property, networking sessions and webinars on sales strategies and using social media for business.

"Through the BIPC Norfolk networking sessions in particular, I was able to meet other entrepreneurs who shared their insights and knowledge about valuable resources I have since used to help develop my business idea."

Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Audiences at the British Library said: 'This month marks 50 years since the British Library first began operations and helping businesses to innovate and grow continues to be one of the Library's core purposes. This report reiterates the unique power of libraries as engines of innovation, economic growth and social mobility in the heart of diverse communities. Whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur, freelancer or just have an idea, the Business & IP Centre Network provides accessible, free and impartial support, delivered by dedicated informed professionals and trusted business experts, both online and in person across the UK.'

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: 'I am delighted that the £13 million of public investment from the Government has enabled the British Library's Business & IP Centre network to equip thousands of people across the country with the knowledge, skills and support they need to start and grow their own business.

'Helping people turn ideas into thriving businesses is part of our ambitious plan to maximise the potential of the creative industries and create jobs, opportunities and economic growth across the county.'

The first BIPC opened at the British Library in St Pancras, London in 2006 and the nationwide BIPC Network was established in 2012, with support from the Intellectual Property Office. Following a £13 million investment from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2020, the BIPC Network expanded to over 100 locations, reaching people who are under-represented in business in more urban, rural and coastal locations than ever before.

The full Democratising Entrepreneurship 2.0 report, including a range of case studies, can be downloaded from the British Library's website.

To find out how BIPC Norfolk can support you to start and run a business in Norfolk, see

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:45