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£1.2 million support for local libraries and start-up businesses

  • Date: 13 February 2013
  • Area: National

Libraries are being given the chance to bid to become key business support hubs in communities across England.

£1.2 million will be awarded to support thousands of people to start up their own business as part of a new scheme funded by Arts Council England, the British Library and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) called Enterprising Libraries.

This money will enable six patent libraries to extend their reach by working with local library services to ensure that high quality business support can be accessed in the communities that they serve.

The patent holding libraries involved in Enterprising Libraries are Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle. These libraries will provide free access to existing patent licences and offer support to individuals wishing to patent their ideas and projects.

Innovation incubators

The Enterprising Libraries project will turn these six libraries into new 'innovation incubators' and see them roll-out business support to towns and villages across the country over the next two years.

A competition will be held in summer 2013 and local library services will bid to work with the patent libraries in our major cities to support their work in communities across the country to increase their business and intellectual property capacity.

With this investment local libraries will have the chance to provide resources to groups which would not otherwise benefit from access to such powerful business support.

Further details of the competition will be announced in the Spring.

Potential for economic growth

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said:

'Initial findings from the Arts Council's research Envisioning the library of the future, due to be published in the Spring, indicates the real potential of libraries being able to bring communities together and support economic growth.

'Working in partnership with DCLG and the British Library we will provide opportunities for local libraries to partner up with an already experienced infrastructure to support business start-ups in the creative industries sector.'

Seminars, workshops and networking

Arts Council England and the British Library are co-funding the project allocating £300,000 each over a two year period, while DCLG will provide £600,000.

Enterprising Libraries will enable libraries in communities to host seminars, workshops and networking events that will include access to dedicated specialist support staff and patent lawyers to provide high quality research for low cost.

Launching careers in libraries

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

'Patent offices and Chambers of Commerce can be intimidating places for people not used to formal business environments. Libraries are welcoming and much-loved by their communities and these new centres mean that a library card will now get you more than just books, it could launch a brand new career.'

Find out more about our work supporting libraries.