Leeds joins forces with British Library to roll out support for small businesses

Leeds Libraries has teamed up with the British Library to help small businesses transform, future-proof and grow in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

Leeds Libraries has been awarded £252,000 to equip four local libraries across the region with Business & IP Centre spaces, resources and services by 2023 following last year’s pledge of £13m in Treasury funding towards the expansion.

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The aim is to provide a boost for people who have recently launched or are looking to start their own business and the roll out will help anyone to grow their own business in West Yorkshire.

Pictured, Leeds City Centre in Yorkshire with Leeds Minster and River Aire. Leeds Libraries has teamed up with British Libraries to help small businesses transform, future-proof and grow in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. Photo credit: stock.adobe.com

A raft of free support and resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, will be available for residents at their local Business & IP Centres in Bradford, Halifax and Wakefield from July, and will also be available in Kirklees later this year.

Coun Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Communities, said: "I’m delighted that Leeds is partnering with libraries in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield to support even more people across West Yorkshire to develop the skills they need to start and grow their own business.

“I’d encourage anyone who has thought about starting their own business to get in touch with their local centre to find out how to successfully launch and protect their business ideas.”

Since 2016 Business & IP Centres Leeds has helped to create over 1,000 new start-ups since 2016.

Pictured, Coun Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Communities, said: "I’d encourage anyone who has thought about starting their own business to get in touch with their local centre to find out how to successfully launch and protect their business ideas." Photo credit: JPIMedia

While across the national network, more than half of those who use a BIPC to set up a business are women and a third are from under-represented backgrounds.

Accessible support offered through the BIPC has also helped small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a recent survey, 23 per cent of BIPC users said that the service had helped them gain confidence and resilience to steer their business through the pandemic.

And more than 3,600 business owners across the UK have attended events as part of Reset. Restart, an emergency online programme launched by the British Library last year to provide new skills and resilience to all SMEs during the pandemic.

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library, said: "At their heart, libraries are trusted spaces with professional staff who have a mission to connect people with information.

"From Glasgow to Brighton, our BIPC Network harnesses the power of libraries, bringing in expertise from the local community to help people from all walks of life turn an idea into a successful business.

"We’re delighted to mark this next chapter in the Network’s journey, growing from 14 to over 100 new regional and local Centres across England, with a longer-term ambition to expand across the UK.

"Our mission is to put business support in every library, but we’re also learning lessons from the past year, by making sure more and more of our business and IP workshops, events and 1-1s are open to everyone online.”

Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage, added: "It is brilliant that small businesses and entrepreneurs will now be able to access invaluable support and resources in more parts of the country than ever before. I'm delighted that, thanks to our £13 million investment in the British Library's Business & IP Centres, this important network is growing from strength to strength.”

To find out more about the Business & IP Centre Leeds and visit your local centre across the region visiting here.

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