The British Library has announced a major expansion of its highly successful network of library-based Business & IP Centres (BIPCs), with a centre due to open at The Word this summer.
Following last year's pledge of £13million in Treasury funding towards the expansion, BIPC Newcastle, a Newcastle City Council project, has been allocated £690,000 to equip six new Centres with dedicated BIPC spaces, resources and services by 2023, building on the proven support already available at BIPC Newcastle.
Known as 'BIPC Locals', the new Centres will open in Berwick, Morpeth, Hexham, North Shields Library, 'The Word' in South Shields and Sunderland Libraries this summer. BIPC North East will also provide a service offering within Blaydon Library, in Gateshead.
Originally established in 2011 as the country's first Business & IP Centre outside of London, BIPC Newcastle provides resources and support for the North-East business community. Over the past 10 years, BIPC Newcastle has supported over 14,000 new-starts and growing businesses and has attracted over 7,600 attendees to over 300 events. During the last 12 months, BIPC Newcastle has played a key role in helping over 300 SMEs to safeguard around 600 jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. Consistently, over 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, including BIPC Newcastle, is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, provided by the British Library, they are brought to life by a tailored and highly individual programme of events, workshops and one-to-ones, delivered in collaboration by local partners. BIPC Newcastle has a team of over 30 Experts in Residence, who derive from a wide variety of business sectors. These Experts mainly come from small businesses themselves and include local community partners such as: Project North East, Reviving the Heart of the West End and The Millin Charity, who offer one-to-one start-up support to N.E. based businesses.
Councillor Ged Bell, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Transport at Newcastle City Council said,
'I am delighted that BIPC Newcastle now has this opportunity to expand across our region to provide local businesses and communities with convenient access to BIPC trained staff and services, through the opening of these six new BIPC Locals.
"It seems very appropriate to be able to announce this expansion in BIPC Newcastle's 10th anniversary year. The new BIPC Locals will make a major contribution to help businesses emerging from the Covid-19 crisis to recover and grow, as well as supporting residents who make the decision to become self-employed and set up new businesses across the region.
"Throughout the pandemic the BIPC Newcastle teams have provided incredible support and guidance to small and independent businesses that are a vital part of our business community and help make Newcastle a vibrant, forward thinking city.
We very much look forward to working with our new Library partners, Councils and business support agencies to deliver new and exciting business support activities and events that will make a positive contribution within their local communities'
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.