Kent Libraries’ Business & IP Centre has made an impressive start with more than 100 potential entrepreneurs making contact to get their business ideas underway.

BIPC Kent, which is part of the British Library’s national network of similar centres across the country, has been established to advise start-up ventures, inventors, entrepreneurs, and anyone with a business idea.

Having been operating successfully at the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone for several months, it has now enjoyed an official opening, attended by some of the entrepreneurs who this new service offer has already helped.

To mark the official opening, a ribbon was cut by Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, who praised the county’s library service for taking on board a number of new initiatives in recent years, the latest of which is the addition of the BIPC.

“BIPC Kent is transforming the way ideas grow into successful businesses,” he said. “It is supporting a thriving community of bright and inspiring people in Kent by partnering with the library service and offering insights and access to free resources, training, and events.

“Offering valuable support to the county’s many entrepreneurs who need a little help and advice will make sure their businesses have the best chance of success.”

James Pearson, the Head of KCC Libraries, Registration, and Archives, said:

“Our libraries have always had a business support service. This is part of the role of libraries; we are part of the ecosystem of community wellbeing and sustainability and an area post-pandemic where we could do more to support businesses.

“What we needed was to make a step-change to the next level – the answer was to apply to become part of the BIPC network.

“We visited the British Library and saw the BIPC there and most importantly saw the testimonies of businesses where BIPC had made a vital positive difference. Here was a concept for the future and we took the next steps to bring that concept to Kent and thank the British Library for accepting us and all their support.”

Among the entrepreneurs who spoke at the launch was Kizzy Barton, the founder of Oatmeals UK, which will be offering “a healthy and wholesome alternative to conventional cafes”.

She told the audience: “We hope, in the future, to run a mobile café that will serve porridge and small menu items with oats being the main ingredient.”

Kizzy said advice from BIPC’s Business Support Specialist, Tito Shokunbi, had been a great help in getting one of her menu items, overnight oats, launched at the official opening event. “I received really great feedback and the overnight oats pots went down a treat.”

She also won £500 grant towards her venture by submitting her business plan.

Author Samantha Buchanan spoke about her forthcoming book, provisionally titled “Dark days of motherhood: what they do not tell you,” and said: “Tito and the team at BIPC Kent have been extremely helpful in supporting me with my book.

“I really didn’t know where to start with looking for a publisher to support my project. I have a meeting with Tito and he guided me through the resources available at the library to build a list of businesses who may be able to help. Without this support, I would not have been able to find a publisher and move on with my journey.”

Also present was Matt James, from Made in Kent Radio, who said the station was keen to promote small and start-up businesses which could not afford the normal advertising rates charged by commercial radio stations.

He said: “We are looking forward to working with BIPC Kent, with potentially a more regular meet up to discuss Intellectual Property on the air as some businesses might not even know about it. I hope we can work together in helping businesses go forward.”

The BIPC is a partnership with The British Library, supported by funding from the Department of Culture of Media and support.

It is a physical and virtual hub where people come together to learn, network, and access free and low-cost information and vital support in protecting and commercialising a business idea. The service provides:

  • Free access to high-quality UK and global market intelligence, customer insights, and company data
  • Intellectual property advice and guidance
  • Free one-to-one support mentoring and training
  • Topical business networking events
  • A welcoming space and access to PCs, desks, and Wifi.