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

14 November 2018

Anne-Marie Imafidon is changing the future by engaging young girls with technology

 

As with most businesses, our Business & IP ambassador Anne-Marie Imafidon also had her light-bulb moment: a keynote lecture at a conference for women in technology, and the realisation that the number of women in the industry had been steadily declining for the last three decades. This resonated with her own experience of being one of just 3 girls in a class of 70 studying Maths and Computer Science at university.
 
A child prodigy herself, Anne-Marie holds the current world record for the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing aged 11, and is one of the youngest people to be awarded a Master's Degree in Mathematics by University of Oxford aged 20. So who better to reverse the trend than someone who has been inspired by maths and science, and went on to pursue a career in STEM?

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Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE is an inspirational figure within maths, technology and business.


 Less than a year after that momentous keynote lecture, STEMettes was born: a social enterprise that motivates young girls to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The award-winning enterprise has since empowered over 40,000 girls to realise their potential, changing the future of technology one STEMette at a time in a landscape currently dominated by an overwhelmingly male workforce.
  
But not all went according to plan when Anne-Marie was setting up the social enterprise, and her initial vision of what STEMettes should be changed in a number of ways. 

 “There were several key aspects of what we do today that we were not going to pursue to begin with. One of them was working with schools, something we did not think would be part of our offer: and now we have a schools programme hosting trips into partner companies, we also support schools by running panels, sessions on site and more. Another one is mentoring, an important part of STEMettes today with a more-than-mentoring programme connecting young women with inspirational industry examples to guide their first steps. What was there from the beginning and has remained at the core of what we do is creating a free, fun and food-filled experience to inspire and support the next generation of girls into STEM while making them feel like they're part of something special... and cool."

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"Diversity is important in any industry - and STEM especially. Diversity of thought leads to innovation.", Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemmete. Photo: Robert Ormerod for The New York Times.

Anne-Marie is vocal about the importance of diversity, not just for its own sake, but diversity of thought as a necessary part of innovation: only by introducing the female perspective in industries that are severely lacking one can we create a genuinely equal future.

"We're a small, but passionate team doing what we can to help. We can't have women leaders if they're not joining the industry in the first place."

While working with girls from an early age is important, and a desire to pursue a career in STEM is a great first step, Anne-Marie says it is also crucial to have support at a post-education stage to facilitate real progress. Business is another area were there are plenty of barriers. 

"The Business and IP Centre, with hubs throughout the UK is a wonderful example of how free resources, accessible expert help and a programme of workshops and events in an inclusive, welcoming environment can make a tremendous difference in supporting entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. The fact that over half of the Business & IP Centre supports are women proves that demand is certainly there."

 

Ewa Domaradzka, Commercial Marketing Manager 

13 November 2018

Q&A with the Queen of Shops, Mary Portas

We couldn’t resist asking the Queen of Shops herself, Mary Portas, a few pressing questions before she takes to the stage at Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Work Like A Woman with Mary Portas.

Some of our Innovating for Growth graduates and Ambassador, Julie Deane OBE, picked Mary’s brain on surviving in business during a challenging economic climate, the rise of digital and more. Here's what they asked...

Alice Asquith, founder and creative director of Asquith: 

With the closure of some key High Street stores, what advice would you give to someone starting out in this rather challenging retail climate?

It depends on where you want to place yourself. The future of great High Street retail will be around experience, knowledge and incredible service. If you can put that at the heart of your business and you believe your offer is unique and relevant to that market and you’re not being screwed over on rent, you have a chance. There’s so much more I’d ask you but these are the first things you should be asking yourself. Why would somebody make the effort to come to my shop? if you can cover the above you have a chance.

Where would you recommend for women to network if they’d like to meet other like-minded retail business owners?

There are hundreds if not thousands of great networking groups across many sectors. They all offer different things so it’s totally dependent on what you’re looking for right now. If you can’t find one that’s giving you what you need, start your own.

What would you say are the key ingredients and factors to successful collaborations with likeminded partners?

Understand the word collaboration. A symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit and support each other. Collaboration is about being better together than apart. Often collaborations are done with one thinking about their benefit alone. You need to consider your collaborator’s reputation and how they’ll benefit too.

Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company:

Should businesses concentrate on establishing themselves in their home market before casting their eyes overseas?

Absolutely. And especially when you’re selling something that’s connected culturally to your market. I’ve seen too many business who’ve gone international and the power of their brand back home has eroded.

Rowena Howie, founder of Revival Retro:

Up and down the country there are small specialist shops providing a remarkable in store experience whilst trying to respond to a digital economy. What advice does the Queen of Shops have for bricks and clicks micro-businesses trying to pay a living wage, offer flexible working and create opportunities for amazing people, whilst still paying rampant rents, unfair rates and facing competition on a global level? Where do you consider the focus should be for small retailers looking to grow and create opportunity?

Focus on community, customer experience and identity. If you nail those three you stand a chance.

To watch Mary's sold out event live, from the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else for that matter), sign up to watch our webcast.

12 November 2018

Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week at the Business & IP Centre

This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week is a great opportunity to highlight women, youth and inclusion in entrepreneurship. We are proud that 56% of users to the Business & IP Centres in London and around the country are women and 38% of users are BAME, providing an accessible and inclusive environment for people at all stages of their business life.

Despite living in an information-rich world, sometimes it’s difficult to find what you are looking for, know the quality of the resources or where to go. Awareness weeks such as Global Entrepreneurship Week, allows us to join in these conversations and highlight the importance of our National Network of Business & IP Centres and all that we offer.

Throughout Global Entrepreneurship Week, in addition to our regular line up of workshops and webinars, we also have on offer sessions bringing together hundreds of attendees and many experienced and knowledgeable partners. Workshops include Books mean Business, Diverse Wisdom, Fashion business planning & strategy, Networking for success and more, as well as a special day-long free event, Work Like A Women Day, on Thursday 15 November, before the ultimate celebration of unstoppable feminine force; Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Work Like a Woman with Mary Portas, who will be launching her new book, exploring new ways of working.

We asked the presenters of Work Like A Woman Day, what it means to them to ‘work like a woman’ and here’s what they said…

Amy Tez, a professional actress who helps entrepreneurs and business leaders communicate with power, conviction and clarity
The Listening Leader

“I’m a woman but I see myself as more than that. I’m a human being like any other, doing the best I can. Coming from a challenging background, I bring my fighting spirit to my business and to helping others grow. My only focus is to help us all listen more, trust ourselves more and reconnect to our shared humanity.”

Kim Davies, marketing expert and journalist
The Heroines of Hollywood

“As a New Yorker living in London, I was told I had to completely change the way I did business. ‘Be less aggressive. Speak in a quieter tone. Talk about the weather before you get to business.’ It was exhausting. Over the years, I’ve given myself permission to be both. I took the best traits from both worlds and balanced it with my true self, so that I could grow as a person, but still remain genuine. That’s what Working Like A Woman has meant to me.”

Emine Rushton, Wellbeing Director at Psychologies, founder of The Balance Plan and conscious consultancy Leaf Create
The Purposeful Career

“For me it is about working in a way that is wholly aligned with my values, that puts my own needs and those of my family first, that supports social equality and positive change, and champions messages of kindness, ethics and truth. Utmost of all, never ever feeling pressurised to be anything other than who I am – and never trying to squeeze myself, or my business models, into a pre-defined box.”

We’d love to hear what you think it means to ‘work like a woman’, tweet us with the #BLMaryPortas and we’ll share our favourites!

Our events don’t just end when Global Entrepreneurship Week does… November highlights include Profit with Purpose (Tuesday 20 November), giving lessons and advice on what it takes to launch a socially impactful product and Passion into Pounds with Purpose (Thursday 29 November), which looks at the leap from employee to working for yourself.

We have also rounded up some of the events taking place around the National Network:

Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire

How to write winning words for your business website, Thursday 15 November, 10.00 – 12.00. Delivered by Stephen Church of Copywriter Pro and covers the key elements that will make a website do its job.

Business & IP Centre Liverpool

  • Product development clinic with Def Proc Engineering, Tuesday 13 November, 17.30 – 19.45
  • Be Your Own Boss advice drop-in with St Helens Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday 14 November, 14.00 – 16.15
  • Entrepreneur In Residence, Cllr Gary Millar’s business advice drop-in, Thursday 15 November, 13.00 – 16.00
  • Research your market! workshop, Thursday 15 November, 18.00 – 19.30
  • Smarta Business Starter advice drop-in with Alt Valley community Trust, Friday 16 November, 10.00 – 14.00

Business & IP Centre Hull

  • Using the UN Global Goals to unleash social business ideas, Tuesday 13 November, 10.00 – 15.00. Delivered by Chapter 3 Enterprise C.I.C.
  • Intellectual Property Clinic, one to one appointments, Wednesday 14 November, 14.00 – 17.00
  • Social Media for Business Clinic, one to one appointments, Thursday 15 November, 13.00 – 17.00

Business & IP Centre Sheffield

GE-WEEK