Northamptonshire libraries has been chosen as one of two pilot projects to launch a Business and IP Centre service to support new businesses.
The county council has been awarded a share of £400,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government and Arts Council England to introduce the service, which will offer help and advice to local entrepreneurs about copyright and protecting their ideas.
This builds on the work of the Northamptonshire Enterprise Hubs, launched in 2012 to provide coaching, advice and access to office space and IT facilities in libraries for people interested in developing a business idea.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the new funding on Thursday (March 12th) during a visit to the British Library where he met entrepreneurs who have already benefited from business support services.
Mr Pickles said: “Enterprising Libraries give people from all backgrounds the opportunity to go and get free expert advice from their library, and receive the support they need to make the most of their great ideas.
“By extending the Enterprising Libraries funding today, we can help grow Britain’s ever expanding pool of entrepreneurial talent and ensuring that local economic growth is supported across the country.”
Among the entrepreneurs who met Mr Pickles was Marsha Sharpe, who launched her dress-making and design business Solo Flair in 2012 with the help of the Northamptonshire Enterprise Hubs.
Marsha, who now employs three part-time staff, supports other business start-ups and gives school talks about starting your own business, said: “I received an amazing amount of support from the Hub team. The free workshops were totally awesome and they provided some very useful advice which I put into practice in my business.”
Cllr Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “Libraries are familiar and trusted public places offering access to a whole wealth of free information, which makes them an ideal venue to offer business advice and support.
“I’m delighted that, thanks to this new funding, we can expand the services available to budding entrepreneurs to give them the information and confidence they might need to start up their own business and help it to flourish.”
This initiative is part of the British Library’s Living Knowledge strategy and was discussed at the recent Leadership for Libraries task force, which is chaired by the county council’s chief executive Dr Paul Blantern and includes the chief executive of the British Library Roly Keating.