Kent is included in a major expansion of The British Library’s successful network of library-based Business & Intellectual Property Centres (BIPC’s) which will involve more than100 regional and local libraries across England.

Following last year’s pledge of £13 million in Treasury funding towards the expansion, KCC has been allocated £627,245 to equip the Kent History and Library Centre with Business & IP Centre spaces, resources, and services. It is set to launch during Libraries Week in October.

From understanding the vital role of trademarks, registered designs, and patents to business research on customers, markets, and industries, as well as tailored events and workshops to develop practical skills in business; Kent Business and IP Centre will be able to provide the help and support that small businesses and entrepreneurs need.

The Kent History and Library Centre Maidstone

The BIPC network has a strong track record of supporting people from all walks of life to start, protect and grow a successful business. In just three years it has:

  • Supported the creation of more than 12,000 new businesses.
  • Led to the creation of more than 7,800 new jobs.
  • Generated an extra £78million to the UK economy.
  • Created businesses twice as likely to succeed beyond three years.

Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. More than half of those who use a BIPC to set up a business are women 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.

While each centre is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases provided by the British Library, they also include a tailored programme of events, workshops, and one-to-ones, delivered in collaboration with local business leaders, role model entrepreneurs, and community partners, such as the Kent and Medway Growth Hub.

This accessible support has been invaluable for small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a recent survey, 23% of all BIPC users said that the service had helped them gain confidence and resilience to steer their business through the challenges of the pandemic.

More than 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 Covid-19 pandemic.

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the 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 BIPC Network harnesses 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.

“We are 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.”

Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said;

“I am delighted that the Kent History and Library Centre is to be included in this major nationwide initiative.”

“The Kent History and Library Centre will be able to offer a unique opportunity to small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing a safe and affordable workspace, the ability to use our resources such as conference and meetings rooms, and a chance to be a part of our business and IP community in Kent.”