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Start-up day success for small businesses at Cambridge Central Library

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Kate McNamara of Venner Shipley talking at the Business & IP Centre Start-Up Day at Cambridge Central Library. Picture: Keith Heppell
Kate McNamara of Venner Shipley talking at the Business & IP Centre Start-Up Day at Cambridge Central Library. Picture: Keith Heppell

The second Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Business & IP Centre Start-up Day 2019 took place at Central Library on Friday (October 11).

The annual UK-wide event, led by the British Library’s Business & IP Centre and supported by Santander UK, invites Cambridgeshire & Peterborough residents to visit their central libraries in Cambridge and Peterborough and take the first steps towards turning their brilliant idea into a successful enterprise.

New figures recently released by the British Library reveal that its 13-strong national network of library-based Business & IP Centres has helped create an average of 15 new businesses every working day since 2016. Most of these were started at home, with 40 per cent of them beginning in a home office and almost a third from the kitchen table. These new businesses are far exceeding national success rates, with 90 per cent still trading after three years, compared to the UK average of 60 per cent.

Cllr Steve Criswell, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s communities and partnership committee, said: “Our Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Business & IP Centre has come from strength to strength since its launch in February, welcoming hundreds of budding entrepreneurs through its doors with a packed-full programme of events.

“There is no time like now to drop in and find out about the support that is available: talk to experts and professionals who are on hand, and who can help you start out on that journey where you turn that idea into a business!”

A full day of talks, workshops, networking and advice began at 10am, with dozens of entrepreneurs, freelance and small business owners engaging with a variety of speakers, advisers, mentors and organisations offering assistance and insights into making your own business work through to mid-afternoon. A 'mini-marketplace' allowed visitors to speak to experts from Santander, Princes's Trust, Ashton's Legal, Anglia Ruskin University and others were on hand to answer questions.

Anne Worthington, library development officer at Cambridge Central Library. Picture: Mike Scialom
Anne Worthington, library development officer at Cambridge Central Library. Picture: Mike Scialom

Central Library's Business & IP Centre opened in Central Library in February, but held a start-up day a year ago to showcase the then-future centre's offering.

"Since the Business & intellectual Property Centre was launched on February 1 we have held more than 70 activities, which have included one-to-one’s, webinars, workshops, coffee mornings and Inspiring Entrepreneur - a live stream from the British Library," a spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council told the Cambridge Independent. "The centre has received more than 200 enquiries since it started. Visitors to the centre during this period total over 270."

Anne Worthington, library development officer at Central Library, said: "We felt inspired by the number of new and existing business owners coming into the Library to transform their ideas into successful businesses. And want to share some top tips for start-ups from the British Library’s live broadcast: ‘add structure to your day; leave home at home & work at work, eat, sleep & exercise, quality not quantity.’ For everyone who visited us at Start-up Day, and those who are thinking about setting up a business, or looking to continue their business journey: we can help at the Business & Intellectual Property Centre."

Speaking after his presentation, Santander relationship manager Kevin Bardwell said: "We gave a talk titled 'Starting Up a Business on a Shoestring'. We had some good conversations about digital and online tools, which are very important, and it's an opportunity for some networking and sharing with other entrepreneurs. Doing research is probably the most important thing to do before starting a business: that and not trying to be all things to all people."

Speaker Dr Kate McNamara, senior associate at European Intellectual Property attorneys, Venner Shipley LLP, said: "The Start-up Day served as a great platform to share why it is important for entrepreneurs and new businesses to protect their Intellectual Property. I explained the need to consider all aspects of intellectual property, from patents and trademarks, to designs and copyright, and to seek protection for IP where a there is a commercial need. Protecting Intellectual Property can be an important step in generating investment for a new venture, and we discussed examples including a patent providing an investor with reassurance that their investment is protected; and the use of trade marks to distinguish goods and services from those of competitors and other traders.

"There were plenty of questions, with attendees having an interest in different areas of IP law, and at different levels: some attendees were interested in trade marks in particular; another wanted advice on the merits of protecting computer-related inventions via the patent system. We also discussed the need to seek advice when looking to protect IP, as the law in this area can be complex."

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