The Business and IP Centre of the British Library has offered advice and information to entrepreneurs and inventors in London and Home Counties since 2006. In addition to the publications and databases that would be expected of a library, the Centre offers business planning, intellectual property, market research and networking services which it delivers through clinics, seminars, workshops and on-line. On-line services include the Centre's newsletter and the British Library UK Entrepreneur Network on Linkedin. Some of those services are offered by British Library staff and others by the Centre's partners.
In my article "Local Enterprise Partnerships begin to take Shape" 21 Oct 2010 I wrote:
"One of the first casualties of the abolition of the RDAs are likely to be local and regional Business Link services. In an interview with Jason Hesse on the Real Business website, Mark Prisk, the Business Minister, announced:
'We’re going to wind down the Regional Development Agencies, and as part of those, we’ll be winding down the regional Business Link contracts.'
These will be replaced by a state funded on-line service - presumably the existing Business Link website possibly under the Solutions for Business brand - and greater use of existing service providers such as chambers of commerce and local authorities. The proposal for a new business information service to be provided by thee British Library, NESTA, Newcastle City Council and Northumbria University is probably something like the model Mr. Prisk had in mind (see "Mark Prisk announces new business advisory service" on theReal Business website)."
The Business and IP Centre for Newcastle was subsequently launched and I blogged about it in "BIPC Newcastle" on 21 Jan 2012.
In “Digital Opportunity A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth” Prof. Hargreaves recommended:
"9. Small firm access to IP advice. The IPO should draw up plans to improve accessibility of the IP system to smaller companies who will benefit from it. This should involve access to lower cost providers of integrated IP legal and commercial advice."
The IPO drew up those plans in From ideas to growth: Helping SMEs get value from their intellectual property which I blogged in "IPO's Plan to support SME" on 31 May 2012. One of the IPO's suggestions was "extending the model used at the Business and IP Centre in London to six regional patent libraries."
By a press release dated 19 Nov 2013 the British Library announced that it had signed an agreement with the Intellectual Property Office and six major UK city libraries to establish a national network of services for small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, modelled on the services offered by the British Library’s Business & IP Centre. The six participating libraries are Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield City Libraries four of which host inventors groups that I have helped to set up.
On 11 Feb 2013 Penny Mordaunt MP sponsored a reception at Portcullis House to launch this network to be known as Enterprise and Libraries: A new national network of business & IP support. The event included speeches from staff of the British Library, entrepreneurs who had used the Centre and representatives of local libraries. I was unable to attend the meeting but I am glad to say that I was represented by Jason McCartney, my Member of Parliament, and by Ian Wishart a patent agent who is also a director of Cobra Special Risks Ltd.
Over the last few years I have worked very closely with Chris Brown in Manchester, Ged Doonan and Stef Stephenson in Leeds, Ruth Grodner in Liverpool and Nicola Avella of Sheffield to support entrepreneurs and inventors in those cities. Now that I am practising primarily from 4-5 Gray's Inn Square (see "Moving to London" NIPC website 5 March 2013) I hope to make a similar contribution to the Business and IP Centre in London. If you want to want to discuss this article, call me on +44 020 7404 5252 or send me an an email through my contact page. You can also follow me on Facebook, Linkedin, twitter or Xing,