Innovation and enterprise blog

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


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 July 2022

A week in the life of Laura Sheeter, co-founder of Chalk & Blade

To celebrate the British Library's Breaking the News exhibition we wanted to get behind the scenes of news-breaking podcast producers Chalk & Blade, with a rare 'Week in the Life of' blog!

Founder and Creative Director, Laura Sheeter spent more than 10 years working as a news reporter in the UK, USA and former USSR - reporting on everything from the fate of abandoned Soviet military bunkers to the villages with only grandparents and grandchildren left behind in the exodus of Eastern European workers to the rest of the EU, the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the rebuilding of New Orleans in the years after Hurricane Katrina.

After a brief career shift, working as a Russian to English translator, Laura and her business partner, Ruth Barnes, set up Chalk & Blade - one of the first podcast-only production companies in the UK - in 2016, before podcasting appeared to be a business at all. Soon the time came to grow their business, so they joined our scale-up programme, Innovating for Growth. 

"The British Library’s Business and IP Centre was the first place, Ruth and I went to learn about how to set up a new business. It’s since become a bit of a North Star with us returning to its resources whenever we encounter new opportunities and challenges.

The sessions with the marketing and brand teams have helped immeasurably with the visibility of the business, particularly embarking on a new redesign of the website and relocation of the offices. The Chalk & Blade team is equipped with SEO-super charged ideas and branding tactics to position ourselves as the premium destination for podcast making."

The company makes premium branded content for brands and organisations including Net a Porter, Adidas and the UN, the hugely popular TV companion series Obsessed With for the BBC (now also a show on BBC3), and award-winning, critically acclaimed narratives including In Search of Black History with Bonnie Greer (audible), The Messenger (audible), Hunting Ghislaine (Global) and Taking on Putin - an independent production with John Sweeney.

So what goes into creating all this ear candy? Read on to find out.


It’s a new work and the first in our shiny new Chalk & Blade offices. While the rest of the world came to a standstill over the last few years, the podcast industry has seen a huge boom. IAB saw an ad spend of $1.4 billion in the space last year alone. With such demand across originals and branded content, we’ve been busy growing and developing the team and the relocation was all part of this investment in the next phase of the business.

Previously in a shared co-working spot on Old Street, we’re now settling into a Shoreditch warehouse space with our own front door and freshly brewed organic coffee on tap (high on the list of requirements during the multiple recces!). A new week gives me a chance to check in with a lot of the team’s projects and look ahead to line up meetings with potential creative partners, commissioners and journalists all bursting with great ideas that could lead to a project.

the Chalk and Blade team in their office


The team is in full swing juggling a multitude of shows this summer. In any one week, we’ve got a BBC show recording for TV and our first foray into visual podcast production (a fascinating experience and, yes, branded cushions are a must!), drafting and refining a very personal show which requires careful briefing, a narrative podcast in pre-production (our office walls are currently decked out with story arc ideas) and talent meetings to unearth some welcome fresh voices into the mix.

Behind the scenes of a Peaky Blinders podcast shoot


The news tells me that we’re gearing up for a heatwave here in London so this afternoon after school pick up I take the boys to get ice-creams (they both choose waffle cones like the sensible sorts, they are). When my co-founder Ruth and I set up the company, we were both parents and so we’ve always been very open about having to juggle the demands of a busy production schedule alongside homework/baking a sponge for the school summer fete or taking the dog for a spin around the park. This is something we’re also incredibly aware of for our team too and want to offer all of them the same flexibility, whether it’s heading to a spin class on their lunch break or needing to take a duvet day when they’ve had a tough week.


I get a text from my colleague, and Chalk & Blade’s Development Lead, Jason who is at the Children’s Media Conference meeting with other production companies and commissioners this morning. Behind the scenes, we’ve been scoping out opportunities for audio ideas for kids. We’re really excited about inspiring young imaginations through podcasts, both as audio experts and as parents who know the value of great content for our kids.

Behind the scenes of podcast shoot with Riyadh Khalifa


The final episode of our podcast series with investigative journalist John Sweeney, Taking On Putin, is out in the world and I couldn’t be prouder of the team! I first worked with John as his Executive Producer on our hit podcast Hunting Ghislaine so when he suggested we follow Hunting Ghislaine with a series about Vladimir Putin, I was all in. We actually started work on Taking on Putin nearly a year ago. At the time I had to keep checking with my business partner, Ruth Barnes, that it wasn’t too niche or geeky. Russia wasn’t fashionable, and those warning about the threat Putin posed were seen as paranoid, crackpots or warmongers. We never expected it to be headline news.

Taking on Putin has shown the true value of telling serious stories deeply, with character and humanity, because when the world takes alarming turns we need to understand not only the what, but have a trusted guide explaining the why of what’s happening too.

And that’s precisely the kind of stories we want to hear and tell through our podcast productions at Chalk & Blade.

BTS Killing Eve

29 April 2022

Spotlight On... our IP experts!

To mark World IP Day this week, we're shining a spotlight on the intellectual property experts of the Business & IP Centre in London to learn about their favourite inventors, weird and wonderful IP queries they've helped to solve, and more.

Neil Infield, Business and IP Centre Manager

Portrait photo of Neil, wearing a suit on yellow background

If you come into the Business & IP Centre at the British Library you'll see Neil's friendly face! He's there to guide you through the complex material we have. Since joining the British Library 17 years ago, Neil has become an expert on trade marks and has supported thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs develop their IP. Let's hear more from Neil now.

What's a weird and wonderful IP related query you’ve had?

"I met with someone who wanted us to arrange a meeting with the head of Transport for London. His invention would remove air from underground tunnels, which would remove air friction from the tube trains. This would massively reduce energy consumption on the underground system. We didn’t resolve the issue of how passengers would breathe on the trains."

What form of IP should every business have?

"I’m a bit biased as I deliver the workshop on Trade Marks. But on the basis that if you are successful, you will definitely have competitors, you need to be able to differentiate yourself from them. And owning a distinctive registered trade mark is the way to do it."

What piece of classic/pop culture will have a big impact when it comes out of copyright?

"I guess the biggest name to go into the public domain will be Micky Mouse next year (2023). But it will be only the original version of Micky (think Steam Boat Willy) will be coming out of copyright. You can find out who came out this year on Wikipedia 

Who is your favourite inventor or invention?

"I think I will go for inventors I have actually met, but I can’t get below three people!

  1. Mark Sheahan, our Inventor in Residence at the Business & IP Centre for over 15 years. He has helped hundreds of inventors through his free, one to one advice clinics.
  2. Ian Harrison, who I met at my first British Invention Show in 2006. His Milli Grip adjustable spanner is sheer genius. And I am the happy owner of both the original and updated versions. You can see Ian demonstrate the spanner here.
    Like many great inventions it hasn’t had the success it deserves. It is currently available through Monument Tools.
  3. An equally brilliant invention is the Kikka Digga developed by Nick Skaliotis. I first met Nick demonstrating his tool at a local agricultural show at Plumpton College. In conversation while buying an early version of the Kikka Digga, I discovered he had already been helped by the Business & IP Centre. Again this product is still waiting to mainstream, but if you read this review on Amazon you (like me) will wonder why every keen gardener doesn’t yet own one."

Seema Rampersad, Senior Research and Service Manager

Photo of Seema in a public setting

Seema has been with the Business & IP Centre for 9 years and has built a reputation as one of our top notch presenters and speed-mentors. She has worked as an information professional for over 25 years, most of this time has been as a business librarian in the corporate sector. 

What's a weird and wonderful IP related query you’ve had?

"We frequently get asked for patents from the 19th century which are not available to find easily or free on the internet. We usually must research some aspects of the query using our specialist resources and even patent indices to find the patent number, year and actual patent with drawings. Some of the 19th century inventions are baffling but also interesting such as one on a physiognotrace for drawing portraits. There was one international government department from another country who were extremely pleased when I provided them with a culturally significant patent which they had previously spent about 10 years trying to trace. I found it in about 10 minutes using our patent resources!"

What form of IP should every business have?

"Trade marks and copyright are forms of IP that most companies have for trading and doing business. As a member of staff who uses a lot of digital content as well as a consumer of content in everyday life, I am reminded of copyright very often. Copyright for creative works is an automatic right but I still would recommend that you are explicit that the right belongs to you and your business to ensure that your copyright is protected and not infringed. I also recommend that you do your due diligence and research copyright owned but others in the onset of your startup to avoid infringing the rights of others."

What piece of classic/pop culture will have a big impact when it comes out of copyright?

"The book Winnie the Pooh came out of copyright in 2022 and there are various artist pieces of works in music, sound and films that are out of copyright which I am less familiar with. However, music like Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' and songs like 'Long Road to Tipperary', 'Til we meet again' and 'Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag' are still being sung freely nowadays with Eliza Doolitte doing a remake of the latter in 2010. 

Who is your favourite inventor or invention?

"I am an avid Apple Inc fan from my iMac, iPhone, Apple Music and I still aspire to get an Applewatch one day. These items have truly revolutionised the way I work, socialise, relax and consume content. I particularly like that Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer (CDO) at Apple, is from my neck of the woods in London. His journey to greatness is truly remarkable as an industrial designer. I also thank Apple for making me more connected in my personal and professional life with these innovations. Not to mention our amazing successful customers who inspire us with their motivations and business ideas in the Business & IP Centre."

Jeremy O'Hare, Information Expert

Photo of Jeremy on white background

Next up we have Jeremy, who has worked at the British Library in a number of roles since 2006. His background is in business information and was previously a Relationship Manager for our scale-up programme, Innovating for Growth Scale-ups. If you've attended some of our webinars, you may recognise him from his intellectual property workshops and one to one clinics.

What's a weird and wonderful IP related query you’ve had?

"Without revealing too much as a lot of people I see require confidentiality, I have worked with performing artists such as dancers and musicians who compose, choreograph and create pieces that become a live art installation. So the IP creation with multiple creators and collaborators (as well as producers) can become very complex but absolutely fascinating. It also demonstrates how IP is in so many different endeavours and is not just about inventions and brands."

What form of IP should every business have?

"I think every business should have at least one trade secret. And I’m saying that in a broad way, such as what is the process to do things that’s better or cheaper than anyone else? Do you have a special network that provides an advantage or have you innovated something so new and unique with value that you can build a business off it? Whatever it is that you wouldn’t want to lose that helps your business should be named and valued."

What piece of classic/pop culture will have a big impact when it comes out of copyright?

"Most of George Orwell’s work is out of copyright from last year, so expect a whole range of work coming out based on his work. There’s already an Animal Farm game. Watch out for adaptations of his established works on stage, film and literature. It’s interesting to note that some of his recently discovered work, may be still subject to copyright restrictions which is why copyright can be a little confusing at times."

Who is your favourite inventor or invention?

"I love looking at the history of patents and how certain inventions have come to create the world we live in. I do think the invention of the first jet engine invented by Frank Whittle, paved the way for the world we know today (GB347206 Improvements relating to the propulsion of aircraft and other vehicles). We can travel to destinations once the preserve of only a few, form closer business relationships, bring long separated families back together and to form new relationships! The world is so much smaller because distance is not an obstacle. It’s just now the price of an air fare!"

Steven Campion, Subject Librarian (Business and IP)

Photo of Steven on a natural background

Steven works alongside Business & IP Centre colleagues as the curator of the IP collection. He has worked at the library for 9 years and can often be found in the reading room helping researchers access our world-leading collection of historical IP documentation.

What's a weird and wonderful IP related query you’ve had?

"I quite enjoy a ‘what is this thing’ enquiry. It’s amazing how often a mystery object will have a patent number somewhere on it."

What form of IP should every business have?

"Always protect a strong business name or logo with a trade mark. Plenty of information on our web pages on how to do this – or pop into your local BIPC for advice."

What piece of classic/pop culture will have a big impact when it comes out of copyright?

"Micky Mouse – but only the version as depicted in Steamboat Willie, as the short film will enter the public domain in January 2024. Later iterations of the character will still be in copyright, and Disney have many trade marks on the character (and many, many, lawyers), but I’m interested to see what happens."

Who is your favourite inventor or invention?

"My favourite inventor is Melitta Bentz who invented the coffee filter (and with it the coffee connoisseur’s favourite – pour over coffee) in 1908.

Before Bentz, coffee was usually brewed by pouring ground coffee into hot water and then waiting for the grounds to settle to the bottom. Sieves and cloth bags were available but they either let too many coffee grounds through, or would be so narrow that the coffee would be cold by the time it was filtered. Bentz’s solution was simple yet brilliant – a perforated brass cup lined with a piece of blotting paper from her son's exercise book.

Bentz became one of the first female German patentees and would go on to found the still hugely successful Melitta company. We have a Melitta brand pour over coffee set in our house and every time I see it I am reminded that we all have the potential to have an idea that can not only make our own lives better, but perhaps also change the world a little for the better as well.

…My favourite invention however is Lego. My bank balance is testament to this."


Got an IP query of your own? Head to our website to learn more about how we can support you and get in touch with our IP experts now!

25 April 2022

Ten Things I wish I knew about Intellectual Property when I was younger

Every generation of young people wants to change the world. And they do, in some way.

Right now in someone’s studio flat, or halls of residence or on a gap year adventure is the next founder of a tech giant, a publishing phenomenon or an inventing genius. Of that, there is no doubt. But some may not get the success or recognition they deserve for their originality, creativity or inventiveness. The one thing that can often make or break an entrepreneur or business venture is getting their intellectual property right, first time.

This year’s theme for World Intellectual Property Day is IP and youth: innovating for a better future.

Here is a list of the most common mistakes that I’ve come across in helping thousands of entrepreneurs, creatives and inventors. I’m a little older now having helped so many but I hope what you read here will make all of us that much wiser not matter how young we are.

  1. Knowing how important Intellectual Property actually is.

You don’t know what you don’t know and that’s the point of our first tip. For any new business (or established) not understanding how IP can protect your creations and innovations is a fundamental mistake. There are two sides to IP; one is preventing unauthorised use of what you create and the other is maximising your existing IP as an asset that can acquire value. And if you come to sell your business, a lot of its value potentially resides in your IP. Understanding this and building it into your business strategy will maximise your IP, and therefore, your business impact. But how? That’s the next point.

  1. Getting to know the IP family

Want to patent your idea? Re brand your design? Copyright your invention? Mixing metaphors is one thing but not understanding the different forms of IP and what they do is like being stuck in a maze without an exit. What’s more, knowing a thing you create in your business or a creative pursuit can often be protected by more than one form of Intellectual Property is a great help. I like to call them the IP family. Knowing the difference between them and the job they do will provide clarity, and help you formulate your IP strategy clearly. So, for the record, you patent your invention, register your design and copyright your artistic expression. You trade mark your brand, keep quiet your trade secret and everything else is know-how known only to you. And as we’ll see, timing for all of this is key.

  1. Don’t be late to register or protect your Intellectual Property.

I’ve been an agony Uncle to many downhearted, once enthusiastic, start-ups. What has been the most common problem? ‘I started trading with this amazing brand only to find someone else was using it’. It’s a fundamental mistake. What you think is an amazing name for a product or business is probably so amazing that someone else has got there first. So do your research online but also for the register of existing trade marks in the UK here. Our team in the Business & IP Centre’s around the country can assist you with how to do a basic search. This of course as relevant to all the other forms of IP, so it’s always good to register or protect as soon as you can establish originality.

  1. Don’t overshare and the importance of confidentiality

We’ve all done it. It’s irresistible. We’re so excited and captured by our new business proposition or new gizmo that will change the world that we ‘overshare’. Pub environments are particularly risky. If you do have something of real potential, why tell the world, or just anyone else you know? The other thing I hear often is that ‘so and so stole my idea’. Unfortunately, the idea shouldn’t have been shared in the first place. Knowing what a non-disclosure agreement is and when to use them, is a good first step to securing your idea if you need to share it with interested parties. In fact, when it comes to inventions, anything already known in the world invalidates your application. So, as a rule of thumb, share nothing with no one, unless necessary, and with the right protection in place.

  1. Assuming a good idea is a commercial idea is the easiest mistake.

This is a big one but I have to say it. Lots of people have amazing ideas for inventions or services and create incredible things, but not all of these will be commercially successful. Why? Because there’s no market value to them. The thing you create doesn’t satisfy a big enough demand where people are prepared to pay for it. So a good exercise early on is to ask yourself three questions; what problem am I trying to solve? How big a problem is it really? And does my invention or business provide a good enough solution? Inventors very often fall into this trap. They discover a solution to something without considering the size, and therefore commercial value of the problem. History proves this, as there are piles and piles of granted patents which never made it to market. Anybody care for spray on hair? Electric shoe polishers? But at least we can be reassured that even the biggest and boldest companies can fall into the same trap. Anyone own a Betamax?

  1. Not market testing your new product or service.

With this in mind, it’s just good practice to do prepare a robust business plan that includes some evidence of potential demand for your innovative product or service. Market research and testing are fundamental steps to get right early before properly launching. This helps to safeguard any future investment, both time and resource and IP, that you subsequently put into the business. At the British Library’s Business & IP Centre you can do market research with some of the best researchers and publishers in any given industry. That will help to demonstrate that you’re on the right track (or not).

  1. Not setting an IP budget.

There is a cost to registering some forms of IP, those that are known as registered rights. Specifically, these are patents, trademarks and design. The most costly are patents but you should do all your IP research early and work out what the most cost effective options are balanced with maximum protection (supported by a sound business case). That way you’re on track to make judicious IP decisions that pay off. It’s also very helpful to list IP as a necessary cost alongside other costs such as marketing spend, operational and staffing. Ultimately, if your IP is effective, the asset should pay for itself.

  1. Not factoring in infringement costs

First, some bad news. There are no IP police. You will need to be alert to anyone else copying your invention, using your brand or selling a different version of the same product you created. And it’s up to you then to act. Sadly, as your brand grows with your product or service, you should expect copycats. Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, except when it takes out your bottom line or ruins your hard earned reputation. Early and tough action on infringement is the best way to shut down any threats and that will almost always involve some legal expertise. So set aside a war chest in your IP defence but be reassured that there is professional help out there. And that’s when IP lawyers are there to fight for your interests. IP lawyers should be members of professional bodies such as CIPA or CITMA. Also be aware of trading standards for some circumstances of infringement.

  1. Not knowing what to ask an IP attorney

Ignorance is never a good thing, especially when trying to solve a complex problem like IP infringement or a new application for protection. That doesn’t mean you have to be an expert, by any stretch. But at least by having a good solid grounding and understanding of how IP works for you and your business means you can maximise the time and effort of any professional advice you seek. Knowing enough about something to ask really good questions and to evaluate the reply is more power to you and encouragement that your IP budget is paying back. Time is money (especially legal time) so cut out the IP small talk and get to the crux of the IP issue and its possible resolution.

  1. Not starting with your Business & IP Centre or Patlib!

How could I not conclude by inviting anyone with an IP issue or question to get in touch with their local Business & IP Centre or Patlib (patent library) network? You’ll be able to talk with staff who have experience and are able to be a sounding board for you to make informed decisions that support your business. No matter what your age (but especially if you’re young), you deserve to be rewarded for your new and innovative creations! And intellectual property is there to ensure you do just that.  

Meet Nick Hart, founder of Storm Skin

Like many budding entrepreneurs, Nick, the London-based founder of Storm Skin has never been short of ideas, but as a first time entrepreneur, he had always hesitated when it came to launching. We are happy to say that with our help, Nick was able to gain the confidence and tools needed to take the plunge and launch his bicycle cover business. We spoke to him to find out more about his start-up journey.

Head shot of Nick Hart

“Storm Skin was born out of personal frustration. As an urban cyclist with limited space, I have no choice but to store my bike outside. A bike cover is an essential item to prevent your bike rusting and seizing up. However, the only bike covers available to buy were cheap, flimsy and prone to ripping. What’s more, they were poorly fitting and tended to spend more time on my next-door neighbour’s hedge than covering my bike. So, we built a bike cover that worked. 100% waterproof, easy to fit, durable, unrivalled protection from wind, rain and UV. Simple. 

Green Storm Skin bike cover over a bike

My first interaction with the BIPC was at Start-Up Day in 2018 and since then they have played a pivotal role in the development of Storm Skin. The Start-Up Day event inspired me to move beyond daydreaming about running my own business to taking steps to make it happen. Once I had taken the decision to proceed, I booked a one-to-one session with an expert from the BIPC. We discussed the lean start-up methodology, and I was able to learn more about the electronic resources available at the BIPC in the British Library. Over the following months, I regularly visited the library, using Mintel databases to research my consumer and market. 

They also supported me with exploring opportunities to export my product into the EU. This included providing links to resources as well as workshops run by their partner organisation (Enterprise Europe Network). The information the BIPC provided demystified the complex process of exporting, particularly the new rules and regulations post-Brexit. 

Another key area that the BIPC supported with was constructing my IP strategy. I attended a workshop with expert IP lawyers, which provided me with more information on trade mark protection, design registration and patents. Armed with this info I was able to decide the level of protection I needed, whilst remaining within my budget.

Finally, I was also helped with the sourcing of my product. Through their monthly Inventor’s Club I was able to meet Bob and Richard, two product experts and serial entrepreneurs, they explained the basics of sourcing products from target pricing to prototyping. Through Richard, I was also able to meet Katy, who helped me to approach factories with my idea.

The best business advice I was given was that innovation comes in many forms. Incremental innovation is as valid as revolutionary innovation. It is not always necessary to create something completely new. Many great business ideas are improvements on existing products. In my spare time, I like to spend time with my family. I have two children under five, who keep me busy and help give me perspective when I’m having a tough day. 

The book that most influenced me was the FT Business Start-Up guide. This book has a step-by-step checklist for setting up a new business. I found it invaluable, allowing me to break down the process into bite-size tasks. The book also ensured I didn’t miss anything (product protection liability anyone?).”

Is your business idea still a daydream instead of a reality? Visit our workshops and events page to see how we can inspire you to take the next step. 

20 April 2022

Inventors of the Month: John Waddington and Anthony Pratt

If you were to hear the names, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard or Miss Scarlet, the board game Cluedo, might immediately come to mind. And for good reason too. The game is a part of so many of our childhoods.

It’s almost eighty years since the idea for what we now know as Cluedo was first pitched to Waddington games by Anthony Pratt, musician and factory worker at the time. Yet, would you think of it as a Leeds innovation?

Illustration of Cluedo board game from trade mark GB50000000001364562
Illustration of Cluedo board game from trade mark GB50000000001364562

The story goes that he was inspired with his wife, Elva Pratt, to create a board game based on some of the live murder mystery games played in country houses that were popular at the time. The Leeds games company saw the potential of the idea right away and did a deal with Pratt.

The eponymous company was founded by John Waddington in Leeds. Its brand has been a household name in Britain for much of the 20th Century. If you could time travel back to any post war decade and take a peek into any games cupboard in any home in Britain, you’d likely find at least one Waddingtons’ game. Probably more. A household name is not an over statement.

So this was certainly a magnificent opportunity for both games inventor and manufacturer. Waddingtons was becoming a local Leeds institution and their reach would be pivotal to the success of Pratt’s invention.

But what was really the key to making Cluedo such a household name around the world? The answer is in three rather forgettable words, intellectual property rights. Here we see Cluedo’s widespread success and the collaboration between Anthony Pratt and Waddingtons as a fascinating case study in intellectual property (IP) and why these rights are so important.

We’ll see how and what lessons we can learn for a new generation of games inventors (and anyone else).

Monopoly right?

Waddingtons built their early success on another game, which also just happened to become a household name. The new American game, Monopoly. They had the exclusive licence from US maker and rights holder, Parker Brothers, to make and sell in the UK. A very savvy move as it turned out, as the favour was swapped with Parker Brothers eventually obtaining the licence for Cluedo (or Clue as it was rebranded in the US).

So the first lesson here is that being a licensor (the owner of the IP rights) and the licensee can (and should) work in both party’s interests.

It certainly worked for Waddingtons, as Monopoly’s success put them in a strong position to develop more games. Cluedo (and Anthony Pratt’s idea) came at just the right time in the company’s growth potential.

But what of the inventor; how would Pratt protect his idea?

Patently obvious answer

Interestingly, Pratt patented the idea for Cluedo back in 1944. Though if you search for any patent called Cluedo, you won’t find it (for reasons to be explained).

Pratt’s patent specification GB586817, Improvements in Board Games, is a fascinating patent. You can view the original here. A patent is a particular type of IP protection for inventions and/or processes. It is usually technical or mechanical in nature, so it’s interesting to read how a game could be considered as such.

Illustration of cards and weapons from patent GB_586817_A
Illustration of cards and weapons from patent GB_586817_A

Here’s an extract from Pratt’s original patent, outlining the process in playing Cluedo. Anyone who’s played it may well understand the selected extracts;

A board game comprises a board divided into areas representing rooms of a house connected by small squares… ten differently coloured movable pieces representing persons, nine tokens each representing a weapon, and a pack of cards having three suits, one suit containing nine cards which correspond with nine of the rooms… The object of the game is to identify a hidden combination of three cards, one from each suit, as a result of information accumulated during play.

The patent for what we know as Cluedo was granted (meaning finally approved by the Patent Office) in 1947.

This gave Pratt, ownership and rights over the game and the ability to sell or licence the process behind the game to any games maker. Owning the patent also provided him a way to oppose any unauthorised copying.

It raises the question, can you still patent a board game today?

Patents and games

The bar is much higher today to be able to patent a board game. That’s because the same criteria apply, that is the games’ process, or method have to be non-obvious and never been done before. It’s actually more difficult to come up with a really new games process that is truly an innovative step.

It’s also the more costly of the IP rights and takes the most time. There are other IP options, the same ones that Waddingtons also used.

Illustration of Cluedo board from patent GB_586817_A
Illustration of Cluedo board from patent GB_586817_A

Copyrighting a game

Copyright is an automatic and unregistered right, meaning the creator owns it as soon as it’s created. Putting a copyright sign, naming the owner and year of creation on the game is a simple and legally recognised way of asserting your IP rights.

Copyright applies to all artistic and written creations. It includes visual elements, wording and designs incorporated into the whole board game, and all can be considered copyright. If, there was ever any copying of a games look or distinctive elements, the creator can seek redress as an infringement of their copyright.

One other IP right called registered design, can sometimes be used. Especially if there is an element of the game that is three dimensional, such as player tokens.

The other very important IP right in relation to games is the trade mark. You can find more information about IP and board games by reading our Industry Guide.

Protecting the name of the game

The appeal to the game Cluedo is in the name, Cluedo. That may sound like stating the obvious but the creation and use of the name is another very important ingredient in a game’s success. The original name for Pratt’s game was Murder! But the one of Waddington’s company executives, Norman Watson, who ran with the idea promptly changed the name to Cluedo. Which was an apparent play on a Latin word ludo, meaning ‘I play’. A clever games title and eventually a brilliant, valuable trade mark.

Here is a wonderful marriage of concept and process (the patent) with the branding and name (the trade mark), topped with a visually appealing board design and unforgettable player names (the copyright). All of these forms of IP protection acts as bricks in a defensive wall of 'idea protection'.

But if you own the trade mark, in practice you pretty much own the game.

Cluedo today

Our Leeds story goes global, as Waddingtons was purchased by American games giant, Hasbro in 1994. And so, Hasbro obtained all the IP rights to Cluedo. We can see that the registered trade mark for Cluedo is still active today. As well as the trade mark for the board game.

Hasbro have taken Cluedo into new directions. Interestingly, the design of the board game, with its various rooms and names is also now a trade mark. The company is using all means of protection to extend the life of the game and retain IP rights over it. It’s a way to safeguard the investment in its purchase. Is it hardly surprising when we see what a timeless success Cluedo has become?

In recent times there have been many Cluedo spin offs, including novelty versions of the game for the Simpsons and TV comedy Big Bang Theory. Back in the 1980s there were even computer game versions and film as well as a TV show in the 1990s.

It all goes to show how a great games idea, playing on our love of old fashioned parlour games, mixed with Agatha Christie style characters can create something as novel as a board game, lifting a name like Cluedo, to the status of iconic.

So who dunnit?

It was a Leeds inventor and games maker that brought hours of fun to families, down generations, around the world.

Jeremy O'Hare, Business & IP Centre IP expert

16 March 2022

The Women Breaking Barriers in Business

Female founded start-ups represent a growing share of investment activity – in the UK in 2011, only 11% of start-ups were women founded and by 2020, this number had risen to 32%. In the male dominated space of entrepreneurship, women founders are often underestimated and overlooked; while we have made progress, there’s still more to be done. To mark Women’s History Month, we’re delving into the experiences of two entrepreneurs we’ve supported to learn how they overcame discrimination in business.

First up is Innovating for Growth alumna Eleanore Richardson, who alongside her mother, Teresa, owns Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic.

Eleanore on the left with mum, Teresa on right in their clinic in Fulham

“My mum certainly has some stories of working as a black female entrepreneur and as I have entered the business with her in the last five years there are a few things that have brought me back down to reality in terms of the challenges that women face in business.

My mum has worked in the hair industry for the past 45 years. She moved from working in a salon to working from home as a hairdresser when she started her family; part-time availability for hair stylists wasn't a realistic career and banks wouldn't lend her the capital to open her own salon. She worked out of our utility room and bathroom for 30 years and with that income, sustained two children (and our many after school activities), a mortgage and bought a flat in Portugal.

Over those years, the banks slowly offered my mum an overdraft for her sole trader account but she never used it because she had always associated debt with poor financial management.”

When Eleanore was studying for her A-Levels, Teresa also stepped back into her own studies and re-qualified as a Trichologist. Soon after qualifying, she found a retail space that she could run her clinical practice from. However, even though she was a successful business owner for the past 35 years, she was asked for a guarantor to support her retail lease application. Financially independent and in her fifties, she didn't find this appropriate, but was forced to compromise by signing an eight-year lease with no break clause instead.

Upon realising that their business was making enough money to register as a limited company instead of a sole trader, Eleanore and Teresa went to several banks and opened a business bank account. Whilst one bank was happy to offer them a sole trader account with a £12,000 overdraft, the only business account they were keen to offer was with a £2,000 overdraft. They eventually went with another bank that offered a measly £6,000 overdraft and meant that their cash flow was still too tight to invest in growth.

Several years later, Teresa was ready to move clinics and they were in a position to develop their clinic hair care range into a product range ready to be sold to retailers. Despite presenting a business plan in an effort to increase their £6,000 overdraft, the bank turned them down. This made no sense to Eleanore, “I had been offered bigger overdrafts as a student earning nothing, yet here was a successful business that made money every year and had never had to dip into an overdraft, had grown organically year after year, and yet credit options were non-existent.” They postponed development of their range for three years out of fear that the investment would deplete their cash flow, and there were no obvious alternatives to financing that weren't fraught with high interest rates.

Fulham Scalp and Hair has also been operating in Luanda, Angola, which is Teresa’s birthplace. There she has a loyal customer base who have grown with her over the years but many customers and onlookers still don't understand how a business like theirs can generate enough interest and enough revenue to fund a satellite clinic in Luanda. “Rumours of my mother having a wealthy benefactor are always amusing, but depressingly remind me that the expectation for women to run a successful, international business is still questioned.

Last year an investor in Angola who was keen to buy a stake in our Angolan business propositioned us. When negotiations began, it emerged that he was only going to accept a majority stake in all of our business holdings internationally and was going to establish his own solicitor as a business consultant with a 5% stake. The mind boggles at how foolish they must have assumed an older black woman and her younger daughter must be.

This I find is the most common theme being a woman in business, and it hasn't really changed from the time of my mum starting her own business through to me joining and leading it. Women continue to be underestimated in their own businesses, and this seems to be particularly brutal for women of colour or for very young (looking) women. For mum she had been underestimated by so many of the services and employees previously hired, that it was a relief to work with her daughter who she could completely trust and not be on her guard with. Personally, I have had to correct solicitors, landlords and accountants on their own work and have even had one rep from an organisation ask if I need to chat with my "mummy" before signing off on membership.”

Our next business is The Fermentation Station, founded by Amy and Sam who received support from BIPC Liverpool in relation to their trademarking. We spoke to Amy to learn how her experience as an entrepreneur has been different to that of her partners’.

Amy (on left) and Sam on blue backdrop

“Being a female business owner has its advantages and disadvantages. In Liverpool, having access to support through The Women's Organisation provides many advantages to being a female business owner in the city, but I believe this is a privilege that many don't receive.

Whilst it wasn't impossible to be a female business owner 30 or 50 years ago, the challenge was much greater than what we see in 2022. Things have certainly come a long way but we still have a lot of progress to make in how we view women in business.  I often think my Nan would have achieved even more remarkable things during her working years had gender roles been different back then. She was an outstanding woman with a genetic eye condition that she never let stand in her way.”

It is also important to encourage young girls into entrepreneurship, when Amy was in high school the only future presented to her was one of academia. “We were told that it was a safe route into employment that meant that we didn't need to rely on a man - can you guess I went to a single sex school! Whilst I am eternally grateful for the solid upbringing they gave me, the option of becoming an entrepreneur was not one that I was encouraged to explore. I think often this causes 'impostor syndrome' as we feel we aren't skilled for the role, whilst men are more likely to take the leap without second guessing whether they’re qualified to do so."

Having been a Company Director for six years between The Fermentation Station & H2A, Amy has built up confidence to present herself as a business leader and leave the impostor syndrome at the door. When asked about whether she has noticed a difference in the way she is treated by investors, suppliers or clients in comparison to Sam she pointed out that unconscious bias is always at play.

“I believe that many think that Sam is the driving force behind our business – that's until I open my mouth, and he is often granted commendations for behaviours that I perform regularly. When we have been challenged with difficult customers or stockists, who are unprepared to acknowledge or accept my response, I have now resorted to responding to them by pretending to be Sam; you would be surprised how quickly their tone & response changes when they believe it's a man they’re speaking to.”

Overall though, the advantages of being a female founder outweigh the disadvantages, Amy has been the company director of a mother-daughter team and a male-female team which have both been incredible experiences for her. “I think it's completely dependent upon the personalities of your fellow directors or founders, and with both businesses I held close personal relationships. Sam and I work well together not because we are different genders or sexes but because our working styles complement each other.”

08 March 2022

International Women's Day 2022: women that mean business in the BIPC

Today is International Women's Day and we are celebrating the wonderful women who work at the Business & IP Centre. Get to know them and learn about the crucial roles they play within the team.


Noelle Duval, Events and Workshop Coordinator

Noelle Duval, Events and Workshop Coordinator

'I started work from the age of 17 for 20 + years in the retail and customer services industry before joining the British library in 2005 as a leading library assistant in the Humanities reading room, the 5 years I was spent working there, I loved interacting and meeting some amazing readers and the celebrities coming in to do their research for either a film/book or plays. I then joined the BIPC team in 2010 as the workshops & events coordinator for the past 12 years, I have met the most amazing inspiring speakers, and as a people person I love talking to our users and getting to know their needs and being able to take this info and creating events to help one way or another, 

What’s special about my role is every day is different, no two days are the same as an events coordinator in the BIPC, Being able to create new events and seeing them bloom with organisational, coordination and scheduling skills ensure that we offer a diverse, flexible programme that meets the needs of our many users. And I am proud to be part of a department that was able to think on its feet, especially in the past 2 years where we converted all of our events to an online service that has been able to help over 26,000 inspiring entrepreneurs.

Being able to see beyond the paper trail and looking and thinking outside the box, as a dyslexic and a creative mind I am very logical in my way of thinking.

The one best resource in BIPC is the human factor, the research & reference staff members plus the delivery partners we work with. They have the combined knowledge and expertise that can help entrepreneurs on a journey from start-ups to growing businesses.

I am very passionate about our environment and hate waste, my motto is 'if it can be fixed why throw it', as the saying goes (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure).  I enjoy upcycling unloved pieces of furniture in my spare time, and I have also re-discovered my love of crochet, during the pandemic. I am also an avid poet.

The one memorable piece of business advice I have received is to 'look back at your past mistakes as lessons learnt, and never give up on your goals and dreams.'

My favourite thing about the British Library is Meeting all of the extraordinary people that come through our doors daily, be it a staff member or visitor. I love how we work in such an extraordinary building and the fact that we have the world’s knowledge at our feet.

I have a few fun facts about the British Library but my top two have to be, being able to read the first-ever publication of Pride and Prejudice (my favourite book) and we used to be part of the British Museum library, in what used to be called the round reading room and the famous people that used it like Virginia Woolf, Charles Darwin and Karl Marx.'


Elisabetta Pezzaioli, BIPC National Network Project Administrator

Elisabetta Pezzaioli, BIPC National Network Project Administrator

'I joined the British Library remotely in 2020, at the start of the second lockdown. My background was in translation and Project Management, working across  global marketing and advertising campaigns for major brands.

The pandemic gave me the kick I needed to venture out of the corporate sector and find a new rewarding and fulfilling role that supports local economic renewal across the country. During the pandemic, I was amazed by the innovation and resourcefulness of small businesses that moved their operations online and kept trading in such challenging circumstances. I also witnessed friends start their businesses with their inventive and creative ideas and I have become one of their loyal customers.

It feels like I have joined a big community spread across the country. In my role as Project Administrator for the BIPC National Network, I have supported the expansion of the BIPC the National Network across the country, reaching out to new and diverse audiences and learning about new business support programmes for entrepreneurs. I also got to meet some of the entrepreneurs supported by the BIPCs and hear their inspiring stories. 

One resource I love to recommend to people is our Reset. Restart programme of webinars! It is targeted, informative, comprehensive and accessible to anyone. The webinars are delivered by experts in their fields. You can find all you need to know and learn in one place. And most importantly, it is free!

It will be interesting to see what is in store for the new Reset. Restart programme starting in April.

I love the possibility of going to exhibitions and looking at the Treasures Collection during my lunch break! The Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights and the Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens, were my favourite exhibitions. Also, I can’t quite believe I work in the building where a section of Magna Carta and one of the earliest printed copies of the Divine Comedy are stored!

I’m most likely to be found in the British Library shop, the perfect source of birthday presents and books for myself and my children.'


Alex Graziano, MI & Project Coordinator

Alex Graziano, MI and Project Coordinator

'I joined the British Library in October 2020 as the Start ups in London Libraries Project Administrator and then joined the Innovating for Growth (I4G) team as Project Coordinator in January 2022. I cover the start-ups part of the I4G programme – basically anyone who wants to start a new business or even just has a business idea. I guide and advise our clients on what we offer and help them get the most out of our programme.

The thing I like most about the Innovating for Growth programme is that it gives aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups the tools and advice they need to set up their businesses. Starting a business can be both exciting and scary, so if you have people that can help you get started and walk you through the process, it makes things a little easier. In addition, whilst the workshops are a great place to learn the basics and familiarise yourself with what you need to start/succeed with your business idea, we also offer mentoring opportunities to clients, and the scale-ups programme provides one to one support and advice to businesses thinking of expanding.

Before joining the Library, I spent quite a few years working for the EU and implementing international projects funded by the EU. As SiLL and I4G are funded by the ERDF, it is great to see the practical changes an EU funded project can have on people.

One of the great things about the BIPC is that it offers so much support to people and businesses - no matter where they are in their business journey. Whilst I4G is focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage businesses, BIPC also provides support to businesses looking to scale up through I4G. And even if you’re not based in London, the National Network provides entrepreneurs and SMEs across the UK with free access to tools such as databases, market research and directories.

The best piece of business advice I’ve heard is that you should know your market and what you offer that no one else does. Understanding your target audience and your business’s unique selling point is essential and a necessary research you’d need to do beforehand. If you don’t know who your market is and you aren’t bringing anything new to the market, then you’re in competition with many others. If your business idea brings something new to the table, you’ve got a much better chance of succeeding.

The best thing about the BIPC is the support it offers to people and businesses. It’s great to be part of a team that supports people in turning their idea into an actual business, or their dream into reality. The added benefit is that it’s free.

My favourite fact about the British Library is that its collection of items amounts to over 700km of shelving, which is equivalent to the distance from London to Aberdeen. It’s hard to believe that the Library can house that many items.'


Clare Harris, Strategic Partnerships Manager

Clare Harris, Strategic Partnerships Manager

'I joined the team soon after the Centre first launched, initially to help run our programme of workshops and one-to-ones; until then having been in charge of literature festivals, reading groups and cultural events for public libraries in Hillingdon. The do’s and don’ts around starting a business were new to me at the time and it was fantastic learning all about the amazing initiatives so many of the entrepreneurs were doing.

I’m very lucky that I get to meet and work with many teams beyond our own. I feel like I’m an honorary member of so many other organisations and libraries!

My current role is the Strategic Partnerships Manager for the BIPC Network and it really does pull out my favourite areas of work, which are all about identifying exciting opportunities with our Partners and peers who share the same ethics, energy and ambition as us. I really enjoy building up the relationships over time and having that mutual understanding help me to design new services.

I joined the team just before Global Entrepreneurship Week 2007, and with GEW 2021 just wrapped up, that brings me to 14 years now working for the Centre.

A resource I love to recommend has to be the people! The databases are worth millions of pounds but, for me, the biggest value is how our Reference Specialists and team can bring all that information to life and so into practice.

One piece of business advice which I return to is to ‘think like a toddler’ as recommended by our Ambassador, Paul Lindley OBE, in his book ‘Little Wins’. It’s all about regaining the self-belief, creativity, imagination and determination we all once had, and then celebrating more of our successes along the way.

I’m really proud of how everything we, at the BIPC, do is to promote the sharing of our resources for free. All funds that we raise, or support that we receive, is all funnelled back into growing and subsidising the services, so I see us as a social impact-driven company; the same as so many of our SMEs.'


Vanesa Perez-Sanchez, Project Manager for the Innovating for Growth Programme

Vanesa Perez-Sanchez, Project Manager for the Innovating for Growth Programme

'I have been working in business support for 16 years and I joined the Library over five years ago to manage the ‘Innovating for Growth: Start-Ups and Scale-Ups’ programmes. We help entrepreneurs on the journey from starting to growing a sustainable business. The programmes offer workshops, one-to-one sessions with advisors, networking events and mentoring. 

I am very lucky to work with colleagues who are really passionate about helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. We are always trying to innovate and bring new activities. Since I joined, we’ve started a mentoring programme to connect start-ups with more experienced entrepreneurs, the “start-up star” series and “meet the buyer” events with our scale-ups. I personally spend a lot of time working ‘behind the scenes’ doing planning and reporting, budgets, and things like that. The best thing is when we get positive feedback from the businesses that we have supported about our impact on their growth. It feels very gratifying to see how much they value and appreciate what we do. 

One resource I love to recommend to people? Get all the support available about Intellectual Property! We have monthly workshops and a very knowledgeable team of business research specialists. Getting your IP right is key when setting up your business; you can save yourself a lot of problems later on and sometimes even make some money with it! We also offer free access to market research resources like Mintel market trends reports.

A fun fact about myself… I come from an entrepreneurial family and I grew up hearing about business before studying economics. Four years ago, I started my own business, a sustainable fashion brand, which has allowed me to experience first-hand what it’s like starting a business and to put into practice everything I’ve learnt over the years. This week I am donating 100% of every sale to the Save the Children Ukrainian appeal.

The best piece of business advice I’ve heard is ‘the power of networking’. Speak to everyone. Don’t be afraid even to approach people that you may feel intimidated by for their success; they are just people, and most people like to help if they can. Also, this is from my parents, do things, always go for it. This frame of mind has encouraged me to have a lot of different enriching experiences like coming to study in the UK, moving for work to NYC, volunteering in Guatemala and lately starting my business.  

I had a daughter just over a year ago, so lately I have been spending a lot of time walking her around the park while I listen to podcasts. I listen to all sorts of them, but talking about business I am a big fan of ‘How I built this’ with Guy Raz.'

Marette Hickford, Business Support Officer

Marette Hickford, Business Support Officer

'I have been the Business Support Officer for the Business Audiences Team since May 2020, which was a good time to start bearing in mind the pandemic was at its peak with a mass lockdown across the UK. I like to think the pandemic helped to transform my experience in the job because I don’t think I would have achieved the equivalent experience if life had been what it was like before. For a start, 50% of my job was to provide support for the Business Audiences Team but obviously, I wasn’t able to book meeting rooms or process visitor passes for guests. My duties for this part of the job focussed on managing the diary for the Head of Business Audiences which bearing in mind she had to focus on managing the team’s move from physical events to online webinars and workshops, her diary was full of meetings. Her diary didn’t really clear until October 2022 and then, there are often only a few gaps week by week. I like to think I have become quite expert at this task! A challenge for me has been to get to know the wider team – nothing beats a chat at a desk in-person but through team meetings, taking minutes and actions, I have got to know them and what their mini-team has been doing.  

The remainder of the job was incredibly insightful as to how a project can pivot unexpectedly. Closing down in March this year, I have been involved in the Start-ups in London Libraries Project which is a collaborative business information project with ten London Boroughs. From delivering in-person workshops, the BIPC at London delivered online webinars where our librarians provided guidance on how to use the business resources available at the British Library and explaining why Intellectual Property is so important to making their business and product ideas successful. The unique aspect to this project was that each participating borough was represented by a local SME Champion who provided the 1:1 mentoring support for people who took part in the project. I had never envisaged getting involved in the delivery of online webinars’ but the experience has proved invaluable for whatever happens next in my life.

Thinking of BIPC resources, though you can’t beat the guidance given by the BIPC’s experienced librarians, I would recommend making use of the Business Management Portal. There, you will find plenty of reports to download, which can give entrepreneurs and start-ups useful information and statistics. Reports are concise and explanatory. It shouldn’t take a person too much time in understanding a report’s key points and recommendations. Try it!

One piece of advice? Other than researching your market, I would say…Test! Test! Test! From what I had learnt through the Start-ups in London Libraries Project, there is no point going ahead with making a product or providing a service if people either don’t understand what you are trying to do or, if there isn’t any demand. Use your friends and family but do get impartial advice and feedback from others, especially from those who you think are your target audience. Really plan how you want to test your product or service and be as objective as you can when looking at the results.  I am sure the British Library will have the resources you need to determine the best method of finding what works and what doesn’t work about your product or service.

Finally, since working for the Business Library, I have discovered that there is a meditation area which forms part of the piazza. It is amazing how quiet it can be with just a small chatter in the background. And…the best place to find me outside the British Library? Probably in a café having a cappuccino and a cake with lashing of cream or buttercream!'


Alyssa Ali, BIPC Network Project Coordinator

'I am the BIPC Network Project Coordinator. It’s a role that I started in October 2020 and it has been a learning journey ever since! My role is to support with the expansion of the National Network, which is a network of 15 Business & IP Centres across the country. Our centres provide business and IP information services that help entrepreneurs on their business journeys. Across the Network, we provide entrepreneurs and anyone with a business idea with workshops, webinars, one-to-one support and opportunities for mentoring and peer-to-peer networking.

One resource that we’re currently running (and I’d recommend) is our Reset. Restart programme, which was launched as a response to the impact COVID-19 was having on small and medium businesses. It was originally meant to run for six months, but the programme has been so successful that it has been extended. This means we can provide more people with the right information, skills and networks to rebuild and run their businesses.

The best piece of business advice that I have heard is that planning for failure is just as important as planning for success.

One of my favourite things about working at the BIPC is reading about the success stories and lessons learned from our users. I also love the fact that the British Library is home to the nation’s archive of sound recordings, a collection of almost 100,000 recordings of oral history, spoken words, music, wildlife and environmental sounds.

A fun fact about myself… I volunteered with the Prince's Trust to help paint the whole outside of a school. It was great to see the community have such a positive reaction to the ‘face lift’ we attempted to give to the local primary school.'

07 March 2022

Meet Nicole Tay, founder of Indomitable Beauty

Are you looking to improve your skincare routine? Nicole Tay, founder of Indomitable Beauty, a premium science-based skincare brand, is here to help. With the modern lifestyle in mind, Nicole worked with a chemist to develop products that deliver results you can see and feel without a complicated skincare routine. Now let’s hear more from Nicole…

Indomitable Beauty Skin Enhancing Duo

‘Did you know: 66% of us felt products did not deliver results as promised, 42% felt routine takes too much time?

Frustrated by a time-consuming routine and overwhelming active ingredients, I was determined to create high-performance and effective skincare products to streamline the skincare routine. Our Renewal Elixir, for example, contains 1% encapsulated retinol, 5% niacinamide plus 5 super antioxidants to replace the need of multiple essences, serums and moisturiser.’

When Nicole started her research on skincare, setting up a business did not cross her mind, there was a more personal reason behind it.

‘In 2018, I broke out in rashes all over my face and neck from overuse of active ingredients and not knowing how these ingredients interacted with one another. I was at the British Library to research skincare/ingredients, I just wanted to know the cause of rashes on my skin. It was through research, I realised there is a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering within the beauty industry.

  1. We have been conditioned to believe that “perfect” skin exists.
  2. We need to buy more products to achieve that “perfect”, “poreless” skin.
  3. Endless marketing-led trends to further entice us, myself included, to buy more products.

At one point, my skincare routine consisted of 12 products and much more just sits on the bathroom shelves. Imagine the products, we used once or twice and left standing on the dressing table that eventually ends up in landfills. It was through my journey in researching my skin that I spotted a gap in the market. Using fewer products but more clinically-proven active ingredients that truly makes a difference to the skin. Less is more.’

Nicole’s motivation is as clear as her ethos for Indomitable Beauty:

‘Our Goal: Reduce environmental impact and be a more considered consumer (create less, buy less, use less and waste less).

Our USP: Less is more. Fewer products, more actives.

Our Value: Driven by science & research, we are guided by data from ingredient choices, concentration and formulation to packaging. Powered by science, supercharged by nature

Indomitable Beauty Renewal Elixir

It was a big step to take from having an idea to fully launching a business. What SiLL project has helped me with was providing invaluable information from market research, legal advice to business planning. I don’t think I would have the confidence to launch my business had it not for SiLL project.

Apart from the practical workshops and advice, meeting other like-minded entrepreneurs was amazing.

Sophie (SME Champion for Croydon) was amazing and was always able to point me in the right direction with her knowledge. Being an entrepreneur, can sometimes feel overwhelming. Having one-to-ones with Sophie whether as a sounding board or getting contacts, Sophie was always engaged and supportive.

My advice to anyone looking to start up a business would be just do it. I was holding myself back for quite a long time because I was scared and nervous and everything you feel when you try something for the first time. That fear of failing is taking away that opportunity of us possibly succeeding. Once I was able to look at it from a different angle, it became exciting.

The key things I have learnt while starting up my business are:

  1. Research, research, research. Everything starts with research. I would not have started Indomitable Beauty if I wasn’t researching about my skin.
  2. Do what you are good at. If you can, find someone to help with what you are not so good at.

To anyone thinking about starting up their own business, I would say…

Be prepared:

  1. To work hard and go out of your comfort zone.
  2. Hear no’s many times over.

Believe in yourself.’

Indomitable Beauty Renewal Elixir

Nicole was asked many times to change the brand name ‘Indomitable Beauty’ to something easier to say/remember. She refused to, and here is why…

‘The word ‘indomitable’ is fundamental to our brand ethos and informs everything we do. This is based on the belief that we all have the ability to be indomitable within us. We pride ourselves with creating the most effective formulation and delivering results. This does not happen with the first formulation, or second, or third. It took us over 2 years and 30 iterations to perfect our formulations. It’s the indomitable spirit that kept us going and staying positive.  

We are living in a society that celebrates success, and failures are often considered embarrassing. As an ancient Chinese proverb goes: “Failure is the mother of success.” Don’t take failure as the end but as a learning curve to do better next time.’

Click here to explore the Indomitable Beauty website and discover their products.

28 February 2022

Meet Paul Jenkins, founder of Triple Double

We spoke to Paul Jenkins, the Founder and Creative Director of Triple Double. As a basketball fanatic from his early years, Paul struggled through the traditional schooling system, told he would ‘fail’ if he decided to go to college to study design instead of doing A-Levels. “There must be a better way to engage young people in education creatively,” he asked himself, before making it his mission to do just that.

PJ Profile Photo

This led him to study at London College of Communication with the goal to take advantage of various placement and real world industry experience on offer – exploring internships across London, Berlin and Tokyo with the likes of Pentagram and Wieden & Kennedy for clients such as Nike and Google. Through the following years, Paul would go on to hold various design and creative positions across in-house and agency roles, focusing more on youth, cultural and sports brands while supporting local community and education projects, before launching Triple Double in 2015. Intrigued? Read on to learn more about Paul and his inspiring business.

What is Triple Double?

Triple Double is a creative studio that unleashes how youth engage in sport and education, using the power of design and creativity to transform their lives. Helping a wide variety of organisations including NGBs, brands, communities, schools, charities and youth groups, collectively reach this common goal.

We listen, understand and learn what the next generation wants, working directly with youth to give them real world commercial opportunities. This co-creation approach and passion for accountability to youth has led us to become a trusted partner of brands and organisations including UK Active, Design Museum, London Youth Games, Red Bull and Women in Sport.

IA 2

IA 3 

Triple Double have also just launched Intergalactic Athletes, a new creative education resource quite literally out of this world! A free resource with an immersive space themed story and project experience for young people, combining their visual, analytical and written skills. Young people can take part individually or Intergalactic Athletes can be delivered in curriculum, for extra curricular enrichment or for after schools clubs – simple to use classroom resources are included. All submissions receive a bespoke digital certificate and are featured in the online space-themed gallery.

You were on our free scale-up programme, Innovating for Growth. How did that help you?

Taking part in Innovating for Growth added skills and confidence to my existing business journey – providing me a wider view of the elements that were already working really well, and the areas that needed improvement, both short and long term.

The opportunity to meet and work with specialist business facilitators, who could objectively support my goals and ambitions for the business, was second to none, with a few in particular who I know I could now reach out again to if I need to, to bounce around future ideas or queries.

What’s the best piece of business advice you have been given?

Focus on the essential, and strip out the noise to make the most progress.

Where are you most likely to be found in/at?

IA 1

Basketball court / talking about basketball / watching basketball/ I've been a player, fan and fanatic since I was 7. That’s where the company name comes from. Triple Double means when a player scores double digits in three stat categories – 10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, for example. 

Has there been a book that impacted you?

Two actually: Essentialism by Greg McKeown and Start With Why by Simon Sinek (I'd save these from a burning building!)


If you are a teacher and you want to find out more about this free creative educational resource, Intergalactic Athletes, sign up for Triple Double’s webinar here.


18 February 2022

BIPC Style Guide

As London Fashion Week A/W 2022 comes to a close today, we’re feeling like it's about time to update our wardrobe! Stuck in a rut with your wardrobe too? Maybe you're feeling inspired to create runway pieces at home? From shoe making classes to vintage inspired clothing, we have BIPC businesses that are transforming the fashion industry to help pull you out of your rut. Find out how below


The Fold Line

Kate and Rachel sewing on a machine in their home/studio

The Fold Line is an award-winning online sewing pattern shop. Founded in 2015 and based in the UK, they are the home for people who love sewing and making their own clothes, offering an extensive range of paper and digital PDF sewing patterns plus copy shop printing services. They are on a sewing mission to help makers find the perfect project and create a handmade wardrobe they love. If the designs from London Fashion Week has inspired you to try your hand at sewing, why not try making one of The Fold Line's best selling sewing patterns for beginners.

Co-founders Rachel Walker and Kate Underdown took part in the Innovating for Growth Free Scale-Up programme and with the help of experts' advice, marketed their new online shop to an established community following. 


I Can Make Shoes

Amanda with a shoe prototype

If shoes are more your style, why not try I Can Make Shoes, a London-based shoe-making school for beginners. Amanda founded the business back in 2010 to teach total beginners how to make their own shoes from home. Since we last spoke to the Innovating for Growth alumna, a lot has changed - she spent the first lockdown filming the same course content she had been teaching in-person for over 10 years and released it as an Online Course, this turned out to be great timing as people from all over the world had been wanting to take one of their courses but weren't able to travel the distance.

The past two years have been a very rocky road, as is the case many small businesses, but I Can Make Shoes has come out of it in a great position having had a chance reset the business and find their feet in the world of online training.


Revival Retro

Woman crossing the sreet dressed in retro clothing

Inspired by beautiful bygone eras Revival Retro’s garments have classic style, feminine tailoring and flattering cuts. They are the perfect antidote to the fast fashion and throwaway culture of the chain brands on the high street and are committed to enabling individual style with inclusive sizing (8-28). For the discerning woman who wants a better shopping experience, their thoughtful design and considered approach puts people, planet and provenance first. Clothing that women will choose to wear again and again, that are easy to care for, enabling this desire and therefor lowering impact on the environment.

Since completing Innovating for Growth in 2017 where they learned to create a solid foundation for their business plans, their small business has built upon lessons learned and stayed true to their values whilst navigating the challenges of the last few years.


Sabina Motasem

Sabina drawing designs in front of a rack of hanging patterns

Sabina Motasem is a multi award-winning bridal boutique featured on and in Elle. The entrepreneur and designer behind it is Sabina Ali whose dresses are proudly made right here in London with beautiful craftsmanship by an extraordinarily talented team. Having started in 2007, with a single wedding dress made as a present for a friend, Sabina's presence has steadily grown and she took part in our Innovating for Growth programme in 2012; it's an experience she calls "life changing" as it taught her the value of detaching herself and gaining perspective.

Like so many small businesses Sabina had to close her bridal shop in Islington but she believes it was the right thing to do. Her boutique is now online, becoming one of the first bridal brands in the country to pivot in this direction, and in 2022 she has started offering in-person appointments at bridal pop-up shops in Kings Cross, London.


Maria Grachvogel London


The Maria Grachvogel brand of Fashion and Luxury is about fit architecture – making clothes exist for the wearer, rather than the other way around. She engineers beautiful clothes, in fabrics that make every shape and size of woman look and feel her most confident, beautiful, and feminine. With a deep belief that cut and fit is transformative to the body and soul, each piece is carefully considered with seams that sculpt the body and fabric that drapes perfectly to move and flow as you do with thoughtful design details to enhance and flatter or allow for many ways to wear and style. The finest craftsmanship goes into every, considered piece so it can be loved and worn for many years. 

Watch the latest fashion film by Maria Grachvogel, Genesis - A New Dawn, which premiered during London Fashion Week on 21 February.   



Woman with red trousers and colourful trainers by B_Boheme

B_Boheme’s showcases how vegan, sustainable and ethical shoes can be desirable. The collection is 100% animal-free using the latest innovations in sustainable, plant-based materials, as well as natural and recycled materials. With their latest collection, they’ve upped the ante to create a collection with the lowest possible carbon footprint. It features three key styles that are designed to be bolder and brighter as well as durable and timelessly chic. They’ve focused on styles that women can wear to be comfortable while still elevating any outfit, the elegant flat shoe, the designer sneaker and the utility Chelsea boot.