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February 15, 2013

British Library unveils plans for business centre network

The British Library's business services are to be extended to six new centres based at patent libraries across the UK.

The British Library hopes to replicate the success of its London-based Business & IP Centre – which supports SMEs, start-ups, inventors and entrepreneurs – on a national level. The new centres will be based in participating libraries in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The British Library received seed-funding from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in 2012 allowing the new centres to go ahead. Newcastle Libraries have already helped over 2,000 local entrepreneurs since opening their pilot Business & IP Centre, and they will be launching the centre as a permanent fixture in Spring this year.

The initiative has also been made possible thanks to two streams of funding from the public and private sector. Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, has announced funding for the project as part of the £600,000 put towards the Enterprising Libraries project over the next two years, in partnership with Arts Council England.

In addition, Barclays has agreed to support the roll out of the Library's Inspiring Entrepreneurs events programme across the six cities. Past events at the British Library have included speakers such as Lord Sugar, Tim Campbell and Orla Kiely.

Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library, said: "With our partner libraries in Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield, the British Library has a vision for a national network of innovation and IP support that will boost the entrepreneurial drive and success of the UK."

Communities secretary, Eric Pickles, said: "This fantastic project will give communities business support and turn town and village libraries into incubators of innovation."