British Library to launch three new outposts in Northumberland to help nurture businesses and boost jobs
A trio of new library-based business centres could help Northumberland entrepreneurs ‘turn an idea into a successful business’.
The scheme, led by the British Library, is set to see three Business and IP Centres (BIPCs) set up in Berwick, Morpeth and Hexham as part of a major expansion in the North East.
And it is hoped the £690,000 project could be a boon to the region’s post-pandemic economy after the existing service in Newcastle helped protect about 600 jobs following the coronavirus outbreak.
“As we continue our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic we are doing all we can to encourage new businesses and help existing ones to grow,” said Jeff Watson, Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member for Health Lives.
“These hubs can play a key role for those seeking support and access with employment and skills.
“The centres will also support our climate change commitment by reducing the need for travel – allowing people who don’t have access to digital devices or the financial capacity to attend other parts of the country in person access to BIPC opportunities.”
Cllr Watson, who’s brief includes responsibility for the county’s libraries, added the programme would help existing businesses expand, as well as providing a breeding ground for new ventures.
The British Library (BL) set up its first BIPC outside London in Newcastle in 2011 and since then has supported more than 14,000 new or expanding firms, offering resources such as up-to-date market research and business databases, as well as workshops and one-to-one mentoring.
A £13million Government grant has helped the scheme expand even further, with £690,000 of this to back six new centres in the North East.
As well as the three in Northumberland, further outposts are planned for North Shields, South Shields and Sunderland, which will take it’s tally from 14 across the country to more than 100.
Liz Jolly, the BL’s chief librarian, said: “At their heart, libraries are trusted spaces with professional staff who have a mission to connect people with information.
“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.”