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Julie Deane backs British Library's new Business & Intellectual Property Centre in Cambridge

By Mike Scialom

Julie Deane at the British Library
Julie Deane at the British Library

Drop-in event for start-ups will give taste of how new service at Cambridge Central Library can help

A free walk-in service run by the British Library for entrepreneurs and small businesses is set to open in Cambridge Central Library in the Grand Arcade.

The service at the new Business & Intellectual Property (IP) Centre, currently in development at the library, is designed to encourage everyone who has ever wondered how to get their business idea off the ground.

“The idea is to make the services free so that anyone can set up a successful business,” says Isabel Oswell, head of business & research audiences at the British Library. “We’re particularly strong on supporting women, anyone from an ethnic minority and people who’ve been unemployed.”

Isabel started the service when she went to New York in 2002 and found the public library there delivering a business development service.

“I was so impressed by what they are doing I took the model across the Atlantic and refined it for London – they didn’t have an IP as part of the model and we included IP patents and trademarks as part of the service we designed for the UK.”

Since the first Business & IP Centre opened in London in 2006 “750,000 people have walked through the doors” to access the service. There are now 10 such centres across the UK, with three more about to be opened – in Cambridge, Glasgow and Nottingham.

“We’re absolutely delighted that Cambridge is going to be joining,” says Isabel. “The centres have had a very good success rate – 40 to 50 per cent of new businesses fail within the first three years, but that comes down to 10 per cent when they use our services.”

To give the public an idea of what is on offer the centre will be open to the public on Thursday September 20 from 9.30am to 6pm, as part of the annual British Library’s Business & IP Centre Start-up Day. This year is the third such event – presented in collaboration with Santander – and features 145 events taking place all around the country.

Santander Business managing director Sue Douthwaite said: “Our collaboration with the British Library’s Business & IP Centre Start-up Day helps further our work with SMEs and start-ups. This initiative places us at the heart of the community, offering truly accessible banking expertise to SMEs and start-ups.”

Julie Deane OBE, founder and CEO of Cambridge Satchel Company and Business & IP Centre entrepreneur-in-residence, said: “One of Britain’s greatest exports is our business and start-up community. We need to ensure that it remains one of the best countries in the world to start and grow a business.

“A resource like the British Library’s Business & IP Centre would have helped me enormously as I was launching the Cambridge Satchel Company – these centres give people the skills, information, confidence and connections they need to turn their business ideas into viable businesses.”

Isabel adds: “Julie is typical of the sort of person we support starting a business. She started working from her kitchen table and built a multi-million-pound business, and she sees the value of libraries where people can just walk in and discover interest and expertise which is scalable and accessible.

“The Cambridge team is very keen to tell everyone about the forthcoming service and involve local firms and organisations to develop the project.”

Visit the British Library’s Start-Up Day site to find out more about the event.

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