Saturday, June 19, 2021

Leeds libraries to support small businesses across West Yorks

The British Library has announced a major expansion of its network of library-based Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) to regional and local libraries across England – including in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

Following last year’s pledge of £13 million in Treasury funding towards the expansion, Leeds Libraries has been allocated £252,000 to equip four local libraries across the region with Business & IP Centre spaces, resources and services by 2023, building on the popular support already available through Leeds Libraries.

This is a major boost for anyone who has recently launched or is looking to start their own business and the roll out will help anyone to grow their own business in West Yorkshire.

A range of free support and resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, will be available for residents at their local Business & IP Centres in Bradford, Halifax and Wakefield from July, and will also be available in Kirklees later this year.

Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. The Business & IP Centre Leeds has a strong track record of supporting local people to start, protect and grow successful small businesses and has helped to create over 1,000 new start-ups since 2016.

Across the national network, over half of those who use a BIPC to set up a business are women and a third are from under-represented backgrounds.

Accessible support offered through the BIPC has been invaluable for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent survey, 23% of BIPC users said that the service had helped them gain confidence and resilience to steer their business through the pandemic.

Over 3,600 business owners across the UK have attended events as part of Reset. Restart, an emergency online programme launched by the British Library last year to provide new skills and resilience to all SMEs during the pandemic.

Councillor Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Communities, said: “I’m delighted that Leeds is partnering with libraries in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield to support even more people across West Yorkshire to develop the skills they need to start and grow their own business.

“I’d encourage anyone who has thought about starting their own business to get in touch with their local centre to find out how to successfully launch and protect their business ideas.”

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library, said: “We’re delighted to mark this next chapter in the Network’s journey, growing from 14 to over 100 new regional and local Centres across England, with a longer-term ambition to expand across the UK.

“Our mission is to put business support in every library, but we’re also learning lessons from the past year, by making sure more and more of our business and IP workshops, events and 1-1s are open to everyone online.”

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