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

12 February 2024

Show small businesses some love

February is a month in which high street shops are adorned with hearts and flowers, and products are often tailored to reflect the theme of love. However it can be more than just a time for romantic gestures, and also a chance to treat yourself and your loved ones while also showing your local business community some love.

Below you can find a selection of luxurious products from the entrepreneurs supported by our Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) across the UK. Whether you're looking for self-care treats, or thoughtful gestures for friends and family, you’ll also help support our vibrant community of small business owners.

Give something scent-sational

perfume bottle

Sarah McCartney, who used our scale-up programme Get Ready for Business Growth, has always had a passion for making her own scents. Her award-winning fragrance, Goddess of Love & Perfume, is dedicated to Aphrodite and how she imagined the perfume she would be wearing if she descended to the North York Moors. Treat yourself or your loved ones to this luxurious perfume, a blend of all the fruit and flower materials we love best: rose, violet, raspberry, blackcurrant, bergamot and Mandarin.

Cost: £60 for 15ml,  £150 for 50ml

Where to find: 4160 Tuesdays

A sweet surprise

Gift guide 2

Vicky Armitage used BIPC North East to research the trends in healthy eating and chocolate, and her business produces raw cacao bars made from organic and nutritious ingredients. With flavours ranging from roasted almond to orange and raw caramel, these bars create a healthier alternative to chocolate that is just as delicious. All ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced and the packaging is recyclable, so you can give a gift that does good!

Cost: £4 each (10% off if you buy 4 or more)

Where to find: Meraki cacao

Wrapped up in elegance 

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Get Ready for Business Growth participant Rory Hutton's products are perfect if you're looking for some luxury. Rory is an award-winning, Cambridge-based artist, print maker, and historian. Drawing upon many inspirations, including architecture, theatre, opera and dance, his collections of silk scarves are testament to the strength of his passion for beautiful things and creative flair. With designs inspired by Shakespeare's First Folio and beautiful manor gardens, these scarves hold a timeless beauty that will add a touch of elegance to any outfit. 

Cost: £45 - £200

Where to find: Rory Hutton

Good enough to eat 

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Amarachi Clarke completed our Innovating for Growth programme (which has now been succeeded by Get Ready for Business Growth) and used the BIPC resources to research the chocolate market. After teaching herself to make chocolate at home she learned that the bean-to-bar quality chocolate could be much better than that available in the mass market, even than perceived luxury brands. From a selection of tasty chocolate bars to Belize cacao infused gin, Lucocoa offer high-quality, delicious products that will make the perfect gift.

Cost: Chocolate bars start at £2.75

Where to find: Lucocoa Chocolate

12 January 2024

2023: Our business journey continues

As we embark on another exciting year at the Business & IP Centre, we are looking back at just some of the highlights from 2023, both for the Centre and among our network of users, supporters and partners. From the launch of our Democratising Entrepreneurship 2.0 report to the opening of more BIPCs across the UK, it certainly was a busy year!

The London Network continues to grow

photo from start up wandsworth launch

January saw the launch of Start Up Wandsworth in York Gardens Library, who also opened another business hub in Putney Library later on in the year. This is part of our BIPC local offering that brings our business support services to the heart of five London boroughs, also including Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Waltham Forest.

Start-Up Day never goes out of style

start up day one to one event

Start-Up Day returned in February with events taking place across the National Network. This jam-packed day consisted of speed-mentoring, informative talks, free IP support and networking opportunities aimed at helping creative businesses thrive in the arts and culture sector. We finished off the day with our Inspiring Entrepreneurs - The Changing Face of Fashion event at the British Library, in which a panel of industry experts, including Patrick Grant, discussed the latest trends in the fast-paced fashion industry.

Kickstart Your Business is born

kickstarting the london economy launch event

In February we also launched Kickstart Your Business, our programme designed to deliver grass roots business support and expert advice in libraries across London through two-days of free workshops, supported by JP Morgan. We delivered over 30 workshops in 2023, and we look forward to continue to support entrepreneurs across the capital this year.

Championing women in business

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We celebrated International Women's Day in March across our network of libraries. BIPC Devon launched their 12-week Women in Business programme, delivered by Devon-based Business Women to empower others to realise their full potential and pursue their dream careers. Our Inspiring Entrepreneurs - Disruptors and Influencers event took place at the British Library and focused on the 2023 Women's Month theme of Embracing Equity; topics discussed included shifting the image of women in business, and how we can best embrace and encourage diversity and inclusion in business for colleagues and peers from marginalised communities. 

Success for the National Network 

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In April several of our National Network BIPCs, made up of 22 regional and 90 local BIPCs across the UK, secured additional funding from UKSPF, ensuring they continue to be a vibrant hub of support to small businesses until March 2025. Entrepreneurs and innovators in various regions can count on continued access to resources, expertise, and opportunities provided by their local BIPC, find yours.

 Serving up more events

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Our Inspiring Entrepreneurs - The Business of Food: From Farm to Fork event took place in May, as part of the British Library’s Food Season celebrations. We were joined by culinary experts Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, The Black Farmer, and Thomasina Miers OBE, founder of Wahaca, who discussed emerging trends in the food industry, the changing image of food on the high street and the ways we can be more sustainable with our food choices.

Honouring women's enterprise 

women enterprise week event

We held an event in June to honour National Women's Enterprise Week, led by our ambassador Alison Cork. The panel discussion featured four exceptional women we have supported throughout their entrepreneurial journey - Cultureville, #ChalkandBlade, Pageful Productions and Skin Solace. They shared their first-hand experiences, discussing the realities, benefits, and challenges of being women in business and provided invaluable insights to empower other women navigating similar journeys. We are immensely proud to have supported not only these extraordinary women but also over 92,000 individuals since 2020. Among them, 63% are women, 32% of whom were from a Black, Asian and ethnic minority and 13% disabled - reflecting our commitment to fostering gender equality in entrepreneurship. 

Double celebrations

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July gave us lots to celebrate as the British Library turned 50, and we launched our independent Democratising Entrepreneurship 2.0 report at the House of Lords. The report shows that Department for Culture, Media and Sport funding between April 2020 and March 2023 has helped grow our Network from 13 to over 100 libraries. 

Art meets business

bipc liverpool

BIPC Liverpool City Region teamed up with Liverpool Art Fair throughout the summer in support of businesses in the art industry, in which they held Entrepreneur in Residence Clinics and hosted a number of events which gave support and advice to artists and others in creative industries. The 6-week exhibition culminated with an interview with BBC Radio Merseyside’s Claire Hamilton and Faith Bebbington, nationally renowned sculptor who is living with cerebral palsy and has survived cancer. She has since become a BIPC Liverpool client, and we have provided her with one-to-one support on her legal contracts and marketing. 

Our BIPC local turns one

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September marked the 1st anniversary of our BIPC local in Lewisham. To celebrate we ran an out of home awareness campaign, supported by Lewisham Council, with over 50 outdoor placements to promote the BIPC services in Lewisham. We also published this blog where we caught up with our Lewisham business ambassadors and heard about their journey with us.

Black History Month celebrations

saluting our sisters

To celebrate Black History Month in October we hosted our seventh Inspiring Entrepreneurs event of the year: Saluting our Sisters, honouring Black women in business. Our panel of visionary women shared their journeys to success, how they overcame challenges and discussed the evolving business landscape. We ended the evening with a fireside chat with Sabrina Dhowre Elba, CEO, Model and Activist. 

The National Network expands

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In November BIPC Nottinghamshire opened a business hub in Nottingham Central Library, and enjoyed a launch event to celebrate their new space. Our interactive map also went live this month, which allows users around the UK to locate their nearest BIPC: you can find yours here.

BIPC takeover

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Throughout November and December we ran a large scale out of home campaign in London to promote our overall BIPC services at the British Library and the Kickstart Your Business workshops taking place in our London Network libraries. This involved advertisement at bus stops, underground and rail stations, and other outdoor placements across the capital.

Wrapping up the year

winter market

We ended the year on a festive high with Winter Markets taking place in some of our libraries around the UK. This featured local businesses coming together to showcase and sell their products just in time for Christmas. We also curated our annual BIPC Festive Gift Guide, sharing gift ideas from small businesses around the UK who have used BIPC services.

13 December 2023

Celebrating small businesses this season

This festive season discover a variety of delightful Christmas gifts from the entrepreneurs supported by our Business & IP Centres (BIPCs) across the UK. From handmade crafts to one-of-a-kind creations, each item carries the hard work, dedication and passion of individuals who have embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship. We shine a spotlight on the extraordinary accomplishments these small businesses have achieved with the support of their local BIPC.  

By choosing something from our featured gift guide, you’ll not only surprise your loved ones with a gorgeous gift, but you’ll also support and celebrate our vibrant community of small business owners.

Let it shine  

Thanks to Her - Christmas product

One business who received support from BIPC Leeds is Thanks to Her. Eliza attended their Start-up Leeds programme, a series of workshops focused on the foundations of starting and running a business. Their sterling silver jewellery is not just a gift; it's a heartfelt tribute to the extraordinary women who inspire and uplift us. Each piece of jewellery is specially selected to symbolise the special bonds you share, with opportunity for personalisation. All adorned with beautiful Thanks to Her gift box and gift bag for the ultimate gifting experience that recognises and celebrates the women who make our world brighter, kinder, and more beautiful.   

Cost: £16.95-£44.95  

Where to find: Thanks to Her   

Elevate Your Accessory Game 

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Fed up with fast fashion? Elle for Leather was created to offer good quality, stylish bags without the designer price tag. With the planet and the slow fashion movement in mind, Elle for Leather only use top quality raw materials, with a classic aesthetic and are handmade and built to last. Emma’s business was supported by BIPC Leeds and attended their two-day creatives workshop, covering all aspects of running a creative business, from choosing the right platform to protecting copyright. 

Cost: Prices of products vary, belts start at £35 and bags range from £100-200  

Where to find: Elle for Leather  

All that glitters  

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Lily & Roo (who used our scale-up programme Get Ready for Business Growth) was founded in 2018 by Brittany Preston from her kitchen table, with a vision to create timeless everyday jewellery, made & sourced responsibly. The majority of pieces they create are made to order and hand-crafted in London with recycled precious metals, and designed to capture a special moment or emotion. This Christmas, their range of new personalised and pearl pieces make meaningful gifts, designed to be treasured.  

Cost: £55-£300+  

Where to find: Lily & Roo  

Wrap up warm  

Squirrel Scarf

Embrace your love for nature and style by gifting your loved ones this festive, eco-friendly scarf this Christmas. Made from 95% recycled faux silk satin featuring the stunning Formby red squirrel, this design was created from original watercolour art by artist Rebecca Christian, whose business was supported by BIPC Liverpool. This scarf is the perfect addition to any winter wardrobe and uses British manufacturing and sustainable materials.  

Cost: £45   

Where to find: Rebecca Christian  

Give the gift of a Christmas tipple  

Wine Chateau

Wine Chateau are one of BIPC Northamptonshire’s Kick-Start grant winners. Be part of their journey, and discover the unparalleled craftsmanship of Milestii Mici Winery, holding a Guinness World Record for the largest wine collection in the world. Give this exclusive gift set featuring two exquisite wines: a luscious Chardonnay, showcasing a perfect blend of fruity and floral notes, and a rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, with its bold flavours and elegant finish. Elevate your gifting experience with this exceptional duo that embodies the essence of Moldovan winemaking excellence.   

Cost: £26.61  

Where to find: Wine Chateau, Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine Chateau, Chardonnay   

Pure festive joy 

Poinsettia & bird www.mayajoy.co.uk

Mayajoy, a home and lifestyle brand, has been supported by BIPC Devon through their Woman in Business programme which aims to empower women to realise their full potential and pursue their dream careers through upskilling, coaching and business resources. Mayajoy  has an incredible range of products that would make ideal Christmas gifts. The Christmas Poinsettia and bird festive tea towel is hand painted in Maya Lawrence's Devon-based studio and digitally printed and manufactured in the UK to limit waste.  Their handmade affirmation velvet zip pouches feature Mayajoy's slogan, metallic lettering, water repellent lining and a contrasting gold zip and come in navy, olive and blush.  

Cost: Teatowels are £14 for one or £25 for two, Velvet pouches are £20 

Where to find: Mayajoy  

‘Tis the season to sparkle 

Delmora necklace

Using gold, recycled sterling silver and stainless steel, Delmora offers a collection of unique and meaningful jewellery pieces that will add some luxury to your gift-giving this year. They have a Recycling and Repair Service, meaning you can reduce personal waste of unwanted or broken jewellery, as well as ensuring your beloved accessories remain in perfect condition. For a more personal touch, you can also engrave your gifts: from dog tags to necklace pendants, ensuring no-one is left out this festive season. Founder Judy is a business ambassador for our BIPC Local in Bromley. 

Cost: Prices of products vary, with jewellery ranging from £18-£150 

Where to find:DELMORA®

Give the gift of inspiration 

Authentic worth publishing

Esther used our Start-ups in London Libraries (SiLL) programme to help build her business, Authentic Worth Publishing, which helps creatives, authors and business owners authentically share their stories and turn them into published books. Covering topics ranging from identity and self-confidence to grief and moving forward, Esther has published a variety of books that could be just what your loved ones are looking for this Christmas. Esther is now a business ambassador for our BIPC Local in Lewisham.  

Cost: Books range from £10-£19.99  

Where to find: Books by Author Esther Jacob

Make Christmas dreams come true 

Naila lavender sachet

Naila is a business ambassador for our BIPC Local in Waltham Forest and her best-selling, handmade lavender sachet is the ideal gift to offer some calm to the chaos of the festive season. Made from aromatic dried UK grown lavender, this product provides a long-lasting aroma perfect for calming and relaxing practices. You can also explore Naila's wide range of other products, including handmade cushions that can add some comfort to your celebrations this year.

Cost: £12.50 plus postage (will come gift wrapped) 

Where to find: Naila Ahmad London

Get creative at Christmas  

Sweet paper creations

Sweet Paper Creations are a not-for-profit business who support their local community through their Mental Matters piñata workshops, and are also business ambassadors for our BIPC Local in Waltham Forest. Add some festive fun to your celebrations with their winter piñata DIY kit that provides fun for all the family. Choose from a range of seasonal designs and gift something memorable this year. 

Cost: £25 

Where to find: Sweet Paper Creations 

Winter warmers 

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Up ’N’ Mellow’s delicious, ready-to-eat nut and fruit porridges are a unique gift this Christmas. Their Instant Peanut porridge is a rich and creamy blend of Ground Peanuts and Oats with a warming and fragrant selection of spices and is a great source of protein and fibre, suitable for vegans. Up ‘N’ Mellow attended a range of in-person and online sessions with BIPC Norfolk, including networking and social media webinars, as well as attending one-to-one sessions with their IP specialist to understand the importance of protecting their intellectual property to kick-start their business.  

Cost: £1.65 

Where to find: Up 'N' Mellow  

Build your own gallery 

Lucy and Sycamore Gap

Lucy Pittaway used our scale-up programme, Get Ready for Business Growth, to grow her business. Lucy’s award-winning vibrant and colourful art makes a fantastic gift idea for art enthusiasts and those seeking unique presents, offering a touch of delight and charm. Mounted prints are versatile, easy to display, and add a pop of colour to any room.  

Cost: from £75.00 

Where to find: Lucy Pittaway

Unlock a world of creativity  

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Get Ready for Business Growth alumni Matthew Wright and Melvin Wright created Playpress because they wanted to help children create new stories with toys that were affordable and eco-friendly. The sets are designed for children to follow instructions, build and play out stories, time and time again. They range from sets for 3-6 year olds such as the Gruffalo, up to the challenging Tower Bridge or Space Station, delivering lots of challenge for 7-11 year olds. They are easy to store and post and they even have Christmas sets or stocking-sized toys! 

Cost: £5.99-£17.99 

Where to find: Playpress Toys 

Save the planet one gift at a time 

Xmas polar bear model

Bare Kind used Get Ready for Business Growth to help scale their business. They are on a heartfelt mission to make a difference for animals, one pair of socks at a time. They proudly support various global animal conservation and rescue organisations, uniting fashion with compassion to create a better world for all and each purchase of bamboo socks contributes 10% of the profits towards the protection of the animals featured on the socks. This year Bare Kind are bringing you animal-saving socks with a Christmassy twist, the perfect stocking filler or secret Santa gift! 

Cost: £7.95-£12.95 

Where to find: Bare Kind