THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

Introduction

This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

19 October 2018

IP Corner: Happy 20th Anniversary Espacenet

When I first began working at the British Library patent searching was very much a manual process which involved using a Catchword Index to find your patent classification, then looking that classification up in the accompanying Classification index to get the relevant subclass and finally, looking the classification and sub-classification up on microfiche to find any relevant patents. It was a fairly labour intensive and time consuming process, but it worked.

Then in 1998 the European Patent Office launched their free search database called Espacenet. Espacenet revolutionised patent searching for the ordinary ‘man on the street’. If they had access to a computer, either at home or more often through their local library, they were able to carry out patent searching using keywords or names or numbers or dates or all of them together.

Espacenet was however kind of a two edged sword, since without any experience of patent searching it was (and still is) possible to convince oneself that your invention was new and innovative because you did not find it when in fact you were simply using incorrect keywords.

The Business & IP Centre's Introduction to patent searching workshop takes delegates through the Espacenet database explaining the searching process and providing hints and tips on how to get the best from the database. Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of inventors I have helped learn how to use Espacenet effectively, preventing some from wasting time and money pursuing an idea that already exists and helping others start on the road to protecting and producing their new product.

If you can’t make one of our workshops you can download one of our IP guides, which are free to access.

In the last twenty years Espacenet has grown from a basic search database to a database that can be used to search worldwide through 100 million documents, both published patent application and granted patents, from over 90 patent granting authorities. Searchers can now check legal status of patents, find out if patents are still in force using the European Patent Register and gain immediate access to the application files or ‘file wrappers’ from the world's largest patent offices using the Global Dossier. Full copies of patent specifications can be downloaded onto a hard-drive, or printed out if preferred, for later consultation by the searcher.

Espacenet is one of my favourite search databases mainly because it costs nothing to use but also because it empowers new inventors by helping them gain an understanding of patents, patent classifications and patent searching so that they can have informed conversations and make better decisions regarding their proposed inventions.

Happy 20th Anniversary Espacenet. Here’s to many more!

Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert at the Business & IP Centre London

Maria has worked in the field of intellectual property since she joined the British Library in January 1993. She is currently the British Library Business & IP Centre’s Intellectual Property Expert, where she delivers 1-2-1 business and IP advice clinics, as well as intellectual property workshops and webinars on regular basis.

To see all upcoming workshops, webinars and events, visit our website.

10 October 2018

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Black Britain and the Creative Industries book recommendations

As part of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs series, we hosted a panel of leading lights in the creative industries with stories of what can be achieved with the right attitude and determination to celebrate the success and cultural impact of Black British entrepreneurs in the creative sector. The panel included MOBO CEO and founder Kanya King CBE, Femi Oguns MBE, actor and founder of Identity School of Acting and Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, co-authors of Slay in your Lane.

As part of the Q&A the panel were asked which books had inspired them. You asked us to compile them; and your wish is our command: 

Elizabeth:
#Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
“Without Lean In, we wouldn’t be here… that book was such an inspiration”

Yomi:
Black Feminist Thought, by Patricia Hill Collins
“A book which helped me grow a lot and I’d recommend anyone, from any background read. If it wasn’t for me having read that book, I wouldn’t have understood my position in this society as a black woman”

Rasheed:
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman
“A magical book about life, trust, flow and mastery in being yourself”

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, by Michael E. Gerber

Business as Unusual - the Journey of Anita Roddick and the Body Shop, Anita Roddick

Femi:
Book of Ecclesiastes

Kanya King:
What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormack

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, by Phil Knight

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki
“I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do to generate an income… my mother told me whenever I wanted to do something, she’d say ‘no’ as she was very risk adverse. But you do need to take calculated risks… how you think about money, good debt and bad debt.

 

Of course, we can't miss out Slay in your Lane, written by Elizabeth and Yomi (currently available to purchase in our bookshop) and, as revealed at our event, one to look out for in the future, Kanya King's first book, we can't wait!

Slay in your Lane

To watch the speakers from the evening, visit our YouTube channel and to see other upcoming events, visit our website.

30 September 2018

Libraries Week: Celebrating our National Network

We are proud to have 13 libraries around the country as part of our National Network, including three pilot Centres (Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Glasgow and Nottingham), which joined this year. 

While libraries are more often associated with books than business, the National Network project is unlocking the potential of city and community libraries to support innovation and job creation in their local economies. Further, each library is sharing know-how and expertise in order to build the network’s services and keep abreast of developments.

National Network
To celebrate Libraries Week, we’re taking a look at the Centres and shining a light on their importance to their local communities and the businesses they have helped*.

Glasgow

The Business & IP Centre in Glasgow is one of three new pilots and part of the growing National Network of co-branded centres. It is also the first of its kind in Scotland. Housed in Glasgow’s famous landmark, The Mitchell Library (founded in 1877), it is now the hub of a city-wide information service. In partnership with the National Library of Scotland and the UK Intellectual Property Office, the Business & IP Centre in Glasgow allows entrepreneurs to take advantage of free intellectual property and business information and expertise.

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We asked Rosemary O’Hare, Principal Librarian at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, to tell us a bit more about the newly launched services:

"Our services are vital for the local community as they support employability. Those thinking about career options, preparing for a job interview or self-employment can find all the information they need as well as facilities, including PCs, wi-fi and quiet spaces to allow them to explore their options.

We also give entrepreneurs the chance to explore their business idea for free and at their own pace. Access to industry standard business information along with advice and support levels the playing field for those starting out with limited funds. Our events and networking opportunities allow individuals to make connections that can help them improve their business.

It’s also useful to call on local partners to contribute who may be active in the local area, and the connections between library and these organisations usually work well for both the library and partners; and of course we all share the same customers." 

Birmingham

Over 300 workshops and 1-to-1s took place with Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Creative/Media/Publishing being the highest joint sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Birmingham

Devon

BIPC Devon with Duchess of Cornwall

65% of the Centre's users were women with Creative/Media/Publishing and Retail/Wholesale/Transport being the highest joint sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Devon

Hull

27% of users were aged 16 – 34, with 40% of users being employees, 27% self-employed and 6% owners of businesses.

40% of businesses were in the Creative/Media/Publishing sector.

Hull

We asked Michelle Alford, Library Services Director, Hull Culture and Leisure Ltd, why their services are vital for the local community, and she explained: 

"Public libraries are unique in communities in every locality, no other public, voluntary or private sector venue holds the trust of its communities as libraries do. The level of trust placed in public libraries is built on the knowledge and confidence that anyone can walk through the door (regardless of age, sex, religion, ethnicity, background, education or other characteristic), be met with a warm welcome and be able to spend time using the space and resources to achieve their purpose without having to purchase anything or justify their reason for being there.

Our activity isn’t confined to the walls of the library either, our brilliant staff spend time in communities to understand their needs, share information and encourage them to achieve their dreams using the support and resources of the library as and when they need to. We design services and activities to meet the needs of communities, provide opportunities and to connect people with one another.

A vital link to validated information resources, high quality activities and excellent customer care!”

Leeds

Over 400 people attended 1-to-1s, workshops and events, of which 35% of users were aged 16 – 34 and Creative/Media/Publishing, Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Professional services/Consulting being the highest % sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Leeds

Liverpool

BIPC Liverpool - launch Jan 2015

29% of Liverpool's Business & IP Centre's users were employees, 25% self-employed and 11% owners. The biggest sectors users operated in were Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Creative/Media/Publishing.

Liverpool

Manchester

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35% of users were aged between 16 – 34 and 38% of users were self-employed, 27% employees and 14% owners of businesses. Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Professional services/consulting were the sectors most of the users worked in.

  Manchester
 Newcastle

BIPC Newcastle

61% of users of the Business & IP Centre were female and more than 550 people attended 1-to-1s, workshops and events. 43% of users were employees and 33% were self-employed. Professional services/consulting was the sector most users operate in.

Newcastle

Norfolk

BIPC Norfolk

36% of the Centre's users were employees and 22% were self-employed. Creative/Media/Publishing was the sector most of the users operate in.

Norfolk

Northamptonshire

38% of Centre users were self-employed, 21% employees and 20% unemployed. Professional services/consulting and Creative/Media/Publishing were the sectors which used the Centre the most. Northamptonshire has a 98% satisfaction rate for the format, quality and relevance of their offerings. 

Northampton

Sheffield

34% of users were employees and 31% were self-employed.

Sheffield

* all data is from April - June 2018