The Enterprising Libraries programme, a partnership between Arts Council England, the British Library and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), funded ten projects in which libraries used their role as community hubs to spark local economic growth and improve social mobility in communities across the country in partnership with the national network of Business & Intellectual Property Centres (BIPCs).

Applications to the fund have closed. To find out more about the funded projects click here.

A second stage of the funding was approved for the libraries involved in the Business & IP Centre network for 2015-16, and was not an open call.  This was different to Enterprising Libraries from 2013-15 where open applications were received to fund 10 grant projects, in addition to the BIPC network.

The two new pilots in Northamptonshire and Exeter were chosen as exemplary Enterprising Libraries projects, with the capacity and resources to enable them to successfully develop their own Business & IP Centres.


This programme is supported by Arts Council England as part of our Libraries of the future strand 'Libraries as the hub of the community'.

The first stage of the Enterprising Libraries programme saw the British Library, in partnership with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Arts Council, working with six core city libraries in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle. The have established a co-branded network of Business and Intellectual Property (IP) Centres that will support the government's innovation-driven growth agenda.  By developing these centres, the resources will be more widely available throughout the country.

The grant programme for local libraries was the second stage of the Enterprising Libraries project.  It developed partnerships between local libraries who were successful in applying for this commissioned grant and core city libraries, thereby spreading business and intellectual property expertise into wider communities.

For those libraries that received funding through the Enterprising Libraries programme, the Business and IP Centre national network will provide: a core support infrastructure; branding and expertise around, for example, database licenses; international and national company information; provision of networking areas; webinars; and masterclasses.

The second stage was additional funding from Department for Communities and Local Government and Arts Council England announced in March 2015 that they would dedicate £400,000 funding to support the British Library's ambition to transform UK city libraries into hubs for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The British Library also made a contribution of £253k in cash and non-cash resources.

The funding will provide a boost to enterprise in Exeter and Northamptonshire, enabling Exeter Central Library and Northamptonshire Libraries to pilot a Business & IP Centre service to support local entrepreneurs.

It will also enable the British Library to consolidate the network of Business & IP Centres already operational in six cities across the UK, and reinforce the important work the Centres do to engage local BAME communities and disadvantaged groups in innovation and entrepreneurship.

The success of the British Library's own Business & IP Centre service is evidence is that libraries have an important role to play in helping businesses to innovate and grow: the London Centre has helped to create 2,775 businesses and an additional 3,345 jobs in new and existing businesses from 2005-2012. Overall, these businesses increased their turnover by £153 million, which in turn made a contribution of £47.1 million in GVA to London's economy[1].

Libraries also have a strong record of attracting users from a wide range of backgrounds; an estimated 41% of Enterprising Libraries participants are women, 38% are from BAME groups and 10% are currently unemployed.

In the six Business & IP Centres already open around the UK (in Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield), local entrepreneurs can receive face-to-face advice and training on how to start, protect or grow their business, and can access market research databases and other information out of reach for most SMEs.

Libraries are an important part of all our lives, bringing communities together and also providing a vital hub for knowledge and information exchange. The success of the Business & IP Centres illustrates their important role in providing business support to those communities and we are pleased to be able to continue to support this work. This additional funding will build on the success of the Enterprising Libraries programme, sustaining the impact of this project to support more local entrepreneurs.