22 September 2014

A Northamptonshire County Council project offering start-up business support in libraries has been honoured with a prestigious national award.

Launched in 2012, the Enterprise Hubs are run in partnership with Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) to provide coaching, advice and access to office space and IT facilities for people interested in developing a business idea.

On Saturday (20 September), the Enterprise Hubs were announced as the winner of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Libraries Change Lives award at a special ceremony.

Cllr Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: "This is an outstanding achievement for our Enterprise Hubs, which have offered support to more than 900 people and helped to launch over 100 businesses since their launch.

"This project is playing a vital role in helping Northamptonshire to become one of the most enterprising counties in the country and I’m delighted that it has been honoured with this fantastic award."

Jo Lappin, Chief Executive Officer for NEP, said: "I am delighted that Enterprise Hubs have received this much-deserved award, which demonstrates perfectly how partners in Northamptonshire can work together to provide business support advice, designed to meet the business aspirations of entrepreneurs.

"Importantly, Enterprise Hubs are about delivering business advice locally through Northamptonshire’s libraries, meaning that advice and support is widely available to people in their own communities."

Who has benefitted from the Enterprise Hubs so far?

The Enterprise Hubs have supported a range of new business start-ups, including boat-building and veterinary lab services to creative arts and cleaning businesses.

The other shortlisted finalists were Hertfordshire libraries for its Kids Hub Library Sessions initiative for children with severe learning difficulties and Leeds Library and Information Service for its Studio 12 Writing Leeds project which works with disadvantaged young people.

Philip Wark, chairman of the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award judging panel, said: "Northamptonshire libraries are part of a growing success story of libraries serving as business hubs across the UK.

"The success of Northamptonshire’s service is tangible proof of how public libraries fuel a holistic approach to individual and community wellbeing, including health, culture and economic."