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Entrepreneurs and small businesses in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough celebrate the kick-start of a new local service today, designed to enable people to start, protect and grow their business.

Over the past six months, Cambridgeshire County Council has been putting the building blocks in place for the new Business & IP (intellectual property) Centre in Cambridge Central Library following a partial refurbishment of the third floor space. This will be the 11th Centre modelled on the British Library’s successful Business & IP Centre, a walk-in service located in the heart of London offering free access to millions of pounds’ worth of business and intellectual property information and events, workshops and one-to-one expertise. Last year, the British Library released new figures revealing that 52 people became entrepreneurs every single day between 2017-18 with the help of the Business & IP Centre and the National Network. Of these, 59% were women and 35% were from a BAME background, compared with 20% and 5% of business owners respectively. An independent report found that nine out of ten companies helped by the London Business & IP Centre succeed past three years, compared with only six out of ten across the UK.

The new Centre in Cambridge will be a hub for entrepreneurs to come together to network, attend events and access a wealth of resources including business databases, market research reports, company data and information on patents, trademarks, designs and copyright. The Centre will harness the expertise of local public and private business experts, working with regional partners such as the Growth Hub, Chambers of Commerce, local universities and colleges and Cambridgeshire-based enterprises.

Today’s launch marks the beginning of a programme of activities, workshops and events for anyone thinking of starting up a business. The programme will include live streams of inspiring talks from the British Library, which in the past have included speakers such as Julie Deane, the Business & IP Centre’s Entrepreneur in Residence and founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, Mary Portas, ‘Queen of Shops’, and Lord (Karan) Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer.

Cambridge Central Library is now opening its doors to engage with the local business community and find out what they want from their local Business & IP Centre service across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The service will also be launching in Peterborough Central Library on 13th February, offering a chance for local entrepreneurs to find out more about the resources on offer. The other 32 libraries and mobile libraries across Cambridgeshire and 10 in Peterborough will act as touch points for the service so that anyone can walk into their local library and seek help and advice.

Sue Wills, Head of Cambridgeshire County Council Libraries said: “The building blocks of high-quality business and intellectual property information, knowledgeable and approachable staff, free and affordable events and networking opportunities are tried and tested in London and other major cities around the country. Today, as we launch the pilot Business & IP Centre service, we want to hear from anyone who might be thinking of setting up a business, or is already established, for their suggestions on how we can make our libraries truly effective, entrepreneurial hubs across the county.”

Councillor Kevin Cuffley, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Vice Chair of the Communities and Partnership Committee and Champion for Community Safety said: “The new Business & IP Centre service is a perfect example of how we can make the most of the strength of our network of libraries, which are safe, trusted and neutral spaces, well-loved and central to their communities. By offering equal opportunity to all local entrepreneurs to use the service across all our libraries, we want to engage with and support anyone who has a business idea to develop their entrepreneurial skills, regardless of their background, gender, ethnic origin, age, ability or disability. I am very proud to see the Centre open its doors in Cambridge today and in Peterborough shortly, but we’re only just at the start-up stage. There’s so much more to come and I look forward to seeing our library become a truly effective, entrepreneurial hub for the region.”

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library said: “The success of the Business & IP Centre’s National Network is living proof of the important role libraries play in harnessing expertise, strengthening networks and generating opportunities across local communities. We are delighted to celebrate the opening of our 11th Centre serving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Cambridge and Peterborough to capitalise on the rich expertise and knowledge contained within the region for the benefit of budding entrepreneurs.”

Julie Deane OBE, Founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company and the British Library’s Entrepreneur in Residence said: “To have had a resource like the British Library’s Business & IP Centre on my local high street would have helped me immensely when I started the Cambridge Satchel Company. The British Library’s model provides not only free access to crucial resources, advice and local business networks, but also the boost in confidence needed to turn a ‘kitchen table’ idea into a successful business venture. I can’t wait to see budding entrepreneurs flourish with the help of this new Centre.

Find out more about the services on offer at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/BIPC.

Gillian Beasley (Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council), Julie Deane (CEO of The Cambridge Satchel Company), Liz Jolly (British Library's Chief Librarian) and Cllr Kevin Cuffley (Vice-Chair of the County Council's Communities and Partnership Committee) celebrate the launch of the new Business & IP Centre at Cambridge Central Library on Friday 1 February.

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