Manchester City Council has partnered with the British Library to introduce small business support in Greater Manchester, Blackpool and Lancaster, and to stimulate the local economy.

The British Library has announced a major expansion of its hugely successful network of library-based Business & IP Centers (BIPCs) to over 100 regional and local libraries across England, including in Greater Manchester, Blackpool and Lancaster.

After pledging £ 13m in funding for expansion last year, the Business & IP Center at Manchester Central Library has awarded £ 700,000 to equip 9 libraries (Altrincham, Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Eccles, Lancaster, Oldham , Stockport, Tameside) with Business & IP Center areas, resources and services through 2023, building on the proven support already available at BIPC Manchester.

BIPC Manchester has a remarkably strong track record of helping locals from all walks of life create, protect and grow successful small businesses.

Between 2016 and 2019, BIPC Manchester helped create nearly 2,000 new businesses and nearly 900 new FTEs. In 2020, the center responded quickly to small business needs during the pandemic, delivering online services, including workshops and one-on-one expert advice, to over 1,500 people.

Business & IP Centers can open the way to entrepreneurship for anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background. As a consequence, over half of those who use a BIPC to start a business are women and a third are from an underrepresented ethnic background.

This diverse user base is more than three times the national average for corporate ownership in the UK and speaks to the accessibility and community-based ethos of this library-based support. Each center, including Manchester, is endowed with a core set of resources such as: B. Current market research and business databases from the British Library, but they are carried out through a bespoke and highly individual program of events, workshops and one-on-one meetings in collaboration with local business leaders, exemplary entrepreneurs and community partners

This accessible support was invaluable to small businesses during the Covid19 pandemic. In a recent survey, 23% of all BIPC users said the service helped them gain confidence and resilience to navigate their business through the challenges of the pandemic. Over 3,600 business owners across the UK have attended Reset events.

Restart, an online emergency program launched by the British Library last year to bring new skills and resilience to all SMEs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Liz Jolly, the British Library’s chief librarian, said, “Libraries are essentially trustworthy places with professional staff on a mission to connect people with information. From Glasgow to Brighton, our BIPC network harnesses the power of libraries and brings expertise from the local community to help people from all walks of life turn an idea into a successful business. We are happy to mark this
next chapter in the network’s journey, which is growing from 14 to over 100 new regional and local centers across England with the longer term goal of expanding in the UK. Our mission is to build business support into every library, but we are also learning from last year by making more and more of our business and IP workshops, events and 1-1s accessible to everyone online. “

Councilor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighborhoods of Manchester City Council, said: “The opportunities for small businesses to recover from the difficult 12 months they have suffered will be invaluable. We know the importance of libraries to service users, and the £ 13 million investment will only be aimed at strengthening and future-proofing the service for years to come. “

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