Innovation and enterprise blog

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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

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

04 February 2022

Meet the Team: Nigel Spencer

Nigel Spencer is the Research and Business Development Manager for the BIPC and Electronic Services. He’s also the man behind our BIPC Reference team at the British Library, a team central to the support the BIPC provides to businesses through one to ones, intellectual property expertise and start up workshops. The team is going to miss Nigel's presence, as he retires this week so we wanted to give him a shout-out and say goodbye to him by bringing his knowledge and insight to you…

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Nigel has been at the British Library for 39 years, when he started his work as a Clerical Officer on the Reference Desk at the Science Reference Library, Holborn in March 1983. A little bit of library trivia for you, this had previously been the Patent Office Library, and was funded to support innovation in the wake of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

“The library widened its coverage to include business information as well as intellectual property in 1982 – the origins of BIPC stretch back more years than you may have thought! I have been fortunate enough to be involved from the 1980s, to the service we launched in 2006 in the St Pancras building and that we are now rolling out across London and the rest of the UK.”

Through his career, Nigel saw the library change a great deal, from the arrival of the internet to the move from the Holborn site to St Pancras in the 1990s, which for Nigel, dominated the decade. He has managed reference teams across the Library, the Patent Express document delivery service, Imaging Services, managed European projects and much more. “Working on all of these has been challenging and fun and it has been wonderful to work with teams of highly motivated and talented people. It was also nice to spend some time working across Reference this year. Reference was where I started, so it feels right to work with this area just before I retire.”

What are your main interests or areas of expertise at the BIPC?

Information and the knowledge that can be gained from it has the power to change lives and this is what really keeps me motivated. This is particularly the case in the BIPC, our message is inclusive and the help we offer is very practical. This also applies to all the British Library collections, whether it is giving people a better appreciation of their own identity to having the confidence to form their own views based on evidence we provide.

I wouldn’t say that I am an expert in anything but in recent years I have become a strong advocate for the Lean Start-Up approach to starting a business. There is a lot of hyperbole about entrepreneurship and what makes an entrepreneur but, in contrast, this approach presents a simple process that is accessible to anyone.

What’s one BIPC resource you’d love to recommend to people?

I am going to take this opportunity to highlight what I think is a hidden treasure and the first collection I ever curated. This is the Trade Literature collection held in the basements. It is a collection of company catalogues and brochures dating back to the 1830s and they provide a rich insight into the detail of people’s lives and technological developments since then. Toy catalogues, for example, reveal detail about the nature of childhood at the time they were published, and the medical equipment catalogues from the 19th century make me very grateful to be living now rather than then! It isn’t all about history however, as they can also provide interesting design ideas that can be applied to new products.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself?

I was the least competent painter in my art class when I was 11. A mix up with colours led to me painting a picture that combined the Sussex countryside with a desert scene. This accidental surreal masterpiece was selected for the Sunday Mirror National Exhibition of Children’s Art in 1970 and was hung in the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly. At that age I believed that I was much better at nihilistic poetry but, unsurprisingly, never won any awards for that – although the, very dark, ‘Ed the Tramp’ did make the annual school magazine. I reached my creative peak aged 11.

Finally, where are you most likely to be found?

Almost anywhere talking to someone about Brighton & Hove Albion!

Thank you, Nigel, for your dedication to supporting the entrepreneurs who have walked through our doors and visited us online over the years, and for continuing to inspire a new generation of business owners through your community engagement work, especially in the local Camden area.

We’ll be catching up with Nigel in a few weeks to see what he’s been getting up to post life at the British Library and the BIPC, stay tuned!

25 January 2022

Small Business Resolutions for 2022

A new year is a time of reflection, it's a perfect opportunity to make important changes and set goals you'd like to accomplish in the year ahead. For small businesses, 2021 remained unpredictable under COVID-19 conditions and in order to adapt, pivots were essential - a tricky environment to set goals and resolutions in. We spoke to businesses we have supported, through Innovating for Growth, our National Network and Start-Ups in London Libraries programme, to find out what their top three resolutions are for this year. If you're struggling to set resolutions of your own, we hope they inspire you!

Paul, Triple Double

Photo of Paul Jenkins, founder of Triple Double

Triple Double is a creative studio, founded by Paul Jenkins, that unleashes how youth engage in sport and education, using the power of design and creativity to transform their lives. Innovating for Growth alumni Paul doesn't usually set resolutions focusing instead on goals, this year he's decided to use themes to guide him rather than setting fixed aims:

  • Responsibility. We can't control what happens, but we can choose how we react. This year I'm going to take more responsibility and empower those around me to do the same, so we can collectively highlight and fix the problems, not just put a band-aid over them.
  • Future Thinking. 'What is the future of... X?' These are the questions I want to be asking this year, and beyond, within the spaces of youth, sport and education that Triple Double works in. Using design and creativity to be in pursuit of the answers rather than just trying to predict them.
  • Team. I want to continue to identify people around me that truly understand why I'm doing what I'm doing, and invest in these relationships – reducing or cutting ties with those that don't. It's impossible to speak and please everyone, so it's about spending time with those that matter most. Goes back to responsibility above ultimately.

Jennifer, Stitch & Story

Photo of Jennifer Lam 1/2 of the founders of Stitch & Story

Founded by Jennifer Lam and Jen Hoang, Stitch & Story gives novice crafters a stress-free experience in learning to knit or crochet, their all-in-one kits contain everything you need to get started and learn the basic techniques. Read on to find out their top three resolutions for 2022:

  • Focusing more on the systems and processes for the business. As our business grows, we’re needing to find leaner and more automated ways of working so that our team has all the right information needed to make decisions. I often find systems and processes quite dull compared to the front facing parts of the business, so this year I’ll be making extra efforts! 
  • Delegating more to my team so that I can get away from the day-to-day and focus more on planning for the business.  
  • Make sure I plan in adequate leave/holiday in advance - otherwise I’ll end up with the bad habit of not taking any time off. 

Tina, HumaniTea

Tina of HumaniTeas holding two cans of her products in the outdoors

Tina was inspired by Taiwanese bubble tea concept and British tea drinking culture to develop a delicious, well-balanced, vegan tea latte beverage - HumaniTea. As well as taking part in the start-up arm of the Innovating for Growth programme, she was also mentored by a successful entrepreneur from the scale-ups programme. Then, in 2021, HumaniTea began being stocked in the British Library canteen! Let's see what Tina's plans are for the coming year:

  • Make HumaniTea accessible to even more people by launching our Vegan Tea Lattes into a nationwide retailer
  • Explore new product development ideas to expand our range of HumaniTea Oat Milk Tea Latte flavours, like turmeric and rooibos
  • Increase our sales to support more wellbeing and sustainability initiatives through growing our list of stockists in the UK and abroad

Fiona & Jennifer, Amaze Associates

Photo of Jennifer and Fiona, founders of Amaze Associates

Amaze Associates, founded by Fiona Wedderburn-Graham and Jennifer McLean, is a transformational coaching company that empowers individuals and  businesses to achieve their goals and to navigate work and life challenges. Their top three resolutions are:

  • Review the business plan and celebrate our achievements: as often we don't lift our heads above the parapet long enough or take time to consider what we have actually achieved.
  • Take social media by the horns: By planning/scheduling reels and stories in advance and introduce lives as part of our marketing strategy. 
  • To be limitless: As a business we have set an aspirational income target, this acts as a real motivating factor for us and has informed our goal setting for this year.

Katherine, ArtPerÚK

Photo of Katherine, founder of ArtPerUK in traditional Peruvian clothing for London's New Year's Day parade in 2020

ArtPerÚK, founded by Katherine Tinoco, is a business created to share Peruvian culture with the wider community in London and the UK, through the art and enjoyment of dance. ArtPerÚK burst onto the UK dance scene in mid-2019, offering Peruvian folkloric dance classes representative of the three regions of Peru: Coast, Andes and Jungle. Katherine let us know what her top three business resolutions for the new year are:

  • Run events and performances outside London to increase Peruvian folklore visibility
  • Create new and energetic choreographies with traditional costumes to increase our variety and diversity
  • Run a Dance Performance with more than 30 dancers in one Theatre in London.

Hellen, Small Stuff

Hellen at her shop front

Hellen Stirling is the founder of Small Stuff, an eco-conscious children’s store in South Yorkshire. Hellen used BIPC South Yorkshire’s free market research reports and recently their IP support to become a trade marked brand. Her three goals for 2022 are:

  • Continue to grow and expand Small Stuff, both online and in real life by taking on more specialised staff to share the load.
  • Collaborate with the local community, support and engage with other local businesses, shoppers and residents to get Crookes high street on the map!
  • Travel and promote the business nationally, but going back to Small Stuff’s roots and utilising pop-up spaces and empty units around the country to promote the brand and our sustainability ethos.

Paul, Solarglide

Paul in his workshop

Paul Pringle, Founder and Managing Director of Solarglide, who are based in the North East, produce blinds, curtains and window shades for ships. They received help from BIPC North East to help take their business to the next level in terms of sustainability. This year, Paul is looking forward to progressing three things:

  • We’re looking at the transport we use, when we travel to shows or to see customers in other parts of the world. What we can do to either offset that, which is not really the way we want to go, we want to try and get as low a carbon footprint as we can, so we’re just looking at every aspect. The support we’re getting to take that forward is great. It just means we’re getting guidance on how to go about it. I was unsure where to turn, now I feel a lot more confident. Our goal is to get the lowest possible carbon footprint that we can get as a business. Yes we’re a manufacturer, but we’ve got lots of other ideas and ways in which we can reduce our power consumption, the processes to make us more environmentally friendly and also the products and see what else we can do to make them more sustainable.
  • One of the big developments happening at Solarglide is we’re going very motorisation with everything we do. For the last 10 – 15 years it’s been all manually operated products we offer. We are now heading into the era of motorisation, i.e. blinds and curtains. We’re investing heavily in research and the development of our products.
  • The other area is we’ve moved in to the yacht industry, which is still under the umbrella of maritime and we’ve developed a whole range of products for the yacht and super yacht market. It’s an exciting time for us. We’re also looking at land-based projects, without diverting too much away from the maritime market, i.e. motorhome, caravan, as our products fit that type of environment very well as well. We’ll stay true to our maritime roots and won’t diverge too much.



09 December 2021

Celebrating Start-ups in London Libraries

The Start-ups in London Libraries programme has now come to an end, as much as we are sad to say it’s over, we couldn’t be more proud of all of the wonderful businesses we’ve seen flourish along the way. Join us as we take a look back and see just how far the project has come.

This pilot programme first launched on 2 May 2019, with a keynote speech from the Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal and a panel discussion chaired by Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, founder of Stemettes. The aim was to deliver grass roots business support in high streets across ten London boroughs. Over the course of the programme running, we have seen a number of brilliant start-ups find success with help from the bespoke business support, workshops and one-to-one sessions available through Start-ups in London Libraries (SiLL). In less than three years, we have supported 2,369 people to get their business off the ground!

Keynote speech from the Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal

The programme has been funded by the ERDF and has helped to ensure that people from all walks of life can access the right information and support locally. It has also proven the value of being situated in local libraries, as they act as community hubs where people come to get information. SiLL has been able to address some barriers people face in starting a business and has reached underserved communities; with over 71% of our clients identifying as women, 56% from BAME community and 11% identifying as having a disability.

We couldn’t have delivered the project without the wonderful help of our Specialist and Reference Librarians within the BIPC and the SME Champions in the SiLL boroughs. They have the knowledge and access to useful databases and tools such as COBRA, saving aspiring entrepreneurs from wasting their time and money when starting their journey. Our latest report demonstrated that those who receive start-up support from the BIPC are 4 times more likely to succeed in sustaining their business.

SME Champions with Rajesh Agrawal at SiLL launch event

We were able to pivot the programme to support businesses across all of London since we went into lockdown by delivering our services online so more people than ever were able to access the free support, just when they most needed it. We have seen a variety of different businesses come through Start-ups in London Libraries; from construction and publishing, to social work and hospitality.

Now it’s time to take a closer look at some of our superb start-ups and hear about their experience on the SiLL programme. 


ArtPerÚK dancers

Delivering and promoting the well-being of individuals through dance classes, ArtPerÚK was created to share Peruvian culture with the wider community in London and the UK through the art and enjoyment of dance. Founder Katherine Tinoco received support from our Croydon Champion, Sophie White.

“I've joined more than ten SiLL online webinars and workshops, where I was able to learn more about how to reboot my business in this time of crisis. The Marketing workshop has really helped me to improve my social media presence on Instagram and Facebook, the Finance workshop helped me understand how to manage tax returns effectively. I was also able to enrol in several one-to-one meetings with a Business Expert, Sophie White, who was amazing! She helped me align my ideas for the business and connect me with people to receive support on finance, legal and also helped me to promote my events.⁣”

Parent Power Limited

Bianca Sapara-Grant, Founder of Parent Power Ltd

Bianca Sapara-Grant, founder of Parent Power Limited works on teaching parents skills to help them take care of their children's mental health and wellbeing. Bianca was supported by our Greenwich Champions, Jawahir Sheikh and Martin Garlick.

“The SiLL project helped me tremendously. They helped me with identifying and crystalizing my vision and goals. I was able to attend a number of their workshops including marketing, social media and sales. I also found that their networking events were a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences.

The most helpful part of the SiLL project was receiving one-to-one support. I had several one-to-one meetings, to discuss my specific needs and requirements. I remember one of the team members from the SiLL project supported me by using specific software to upload podcasts and YouTube videos.”

Yum Seng

Yumseng family

Yum Seng is a successful Dim Sum and Cocktail meal kit business founded by husband and wife, Chuong and Stephanie Van Dang, during lockdown. They have always had a passion for great Dim Sum restaurants and decided to start their own. Chuong and Stephanie received support from our Lambeth Champion, Rachel Samuels.

“SiLL was instrumental in giving us the confidence to flesh out an idea, develop it into a viable business plan and then launch as a commercial business. We’ve learnt a lot from their workshops and were inspired by other entrepreneurs that we had met along the way. Our local SiLL Champion Rachel Samuels was incredible. She took time to help me with my previous venture, by identifying and introducing me to other council departments that could help. She also helped me successfully apply for grant funding. She gave me the confidence in myself and my idea, which was a massive morale boost.⁣

Starting your own business can be very lonely, and SiLL is offering you a community of support. You never know, you may even meet your future business partner there!”

Amaze Associates

Fiona Wedderburn-Graham and Jennifer McLean, Co-directors of Amaze Associates

Fiona Wedderburn-Graham and Jennifer McLean, are the co-directors of Amaze Associates; a transformational coaching company that empowers individuals and businesses to achieve their goals and to navigate work and life challenges. Fiona and Jennifer were supported by our Lewisham Champion, Mark Berbeck.

“The workshops SiLL provided were great, particularly the ‘get ready for business’, marketing and finance workshops. SiLL also provided excellent networking opportunities. ⁣

However the most helpful were the one-to-ones with our SME Champion (Mark Berbeck). Our one-to-ones helped us to consolidate the learning and gave us more business insight. Our champion connected us with other businesses, funding sources and helped us to think about how to scale the business.⁣”

The Goodfriends

Daphne Gutfroind, Founded of The Goodfriends

Daphne Gutfroind founded her business The Goodfriends, which is a recruiting and coaching company. Daphne aims to bring career development and childcare solutions to the families of Haringey. She received help from our Haringey Champion, Nicola Moore.

“I was signposted to the programme by my DWP coach and felt so privileged to access such a valuable course, that I attended all the workshops. It has helped me with my marketing, if I had to point where I use my SiLL learnings the most. It has also greatly helped me with developing any funding strategy thanks to the finance and crowdfunding workshops. More generally, the programme has helped me to stay focused on my own development as the best way to keep my business moving and innovating.

I received direct support from Nicola on numerous occasions. It was helpful to navigate the programme and stay in the know of what is happening and when. It also helped me gain confidence in online networking. Nicola also offered to connect me and my business partner to key individuals of the council for our project (pot on the fire!). Finally it helped me simply feel confident that I am not alone, a professional is reachable for support.”

The Brave Project

Donelle Grant, Founder of the Brave Project

Donelle Grant, founded The Brave Project community interest company, a non-profit suicide prevention and wellbeing service; for BAME boys and young men. The mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education. Donelle was supported by ⁣our Champion for Newham, Rashed Belal.

“Rashed has provided me with access to a number of business workshops and support for Marketing, to finance, and many more. I am so grateful for the SiLL programme and my SME Champion Mentor Rashed Beal, who has been a great business Mentor, consistently empowering me to  push forward with my business.”

Nu(pw)R Ltd

Roohi and Nida Mohiyuddin founders of Nu(pw)R Ltd

Roohi and Nida Mohiyuddin founded Nu(pw)R Ltd, a service-based business that helps professional women become confident and empowered leaders without overwhelm through mindset and success mentoring. Roohi and Nida were supported by our Southwark Champion, Dean Williams.

“We were given the most amazing mentor who is the SME champion for Southwark. He encouraged us to be better every step of the way. When we hit a wall he showed us how to work out a way to climb it with confidence. Our questions were answered, our worries were addressed and we kept growing and being better.

We understood that failure was a tool for growth and that our journey was about progression and not perfection.

In addition, the SiLL program allowed us access to numerous amazing resources. We had access to events, training and met other mentors to learn about marketing, copyright, patenting and the resources to start up a business.”

The Breakhouse Café

Chloe Bailey-Williams, Founder of The Breakhouse Café

Chloe Bailey-Williams, founded The Breakhouse Café. With her passion for coffee and amazing food, Chloe has created a space that the local community loves. She aims for the business to be sustainable and ethical wherever possible, and to be inclusive of a variety of tastes, reflecting the diversity of her customers. Chloe was supported by our Tower Hamlets Champion, Abraham O'Dude.

“It’s been good to catch-up with Abraham in our one-to-ones and through emails, some other programmes that I have tried just don’t keep in touch. It’s quite challenging setting up a business in a pandemic so I appreciate that Abraham would visit me at the Café to go over different strategies. He would also inform and support me in taking up opportunities like the mentoring, which I successfully applied for. It really helps to speak with him about my business and I continue to benefit from his experience and advice. His ideas on how to use the space (like setting up a film club) and some Café tips I can’t mention (it’s a trade secret) have been great, we are currently planning our first film night!”


Judy Chicangana-Matthews, Founder of Delmora, making a T-Shirt

Delmora helps turn a 'good look' into a 'great look' with their beautiful jewellery and accessories. Founder Judy Chicangana-Matthews, received support from our Bexley  Champion, Ioanna Lymperaki.

“SiLL is a terrific project because it's available to anyone. Even if you don't have your own business and you have an idea. That is how I started the programme; Delmora was just an idea when I decided to attend the masterclasses. Although I have a business background, I didn't know where to find information or how to address the British market. That was the most significant help. Learning about Cobra and how the library supports businesses with industry guides and multiple resources such as Mintel and Euromonitor reports, helped me to create my marketing strategy to start Delmora.”

Authentic Worth

Esther Jacob, Founder of Authentic Worth

Esther Jacob is founder of Authentic Worth, a book publishing company that is dedicated to help aspiring authors to write and publish a book.⁣ Esther was supported by our Waltham Forest Champion, Jacqueline Brown.

The SiLL project helped me in setting up my business through their workshops I attended in 2019. On the first day, I was able to connect and network with other aspiring entrepreneurs that had different ideas about what they wanted to achieve in their businesses. I was able to share ideas with them and vice versa which helped stimulate trust and the tenacity to grow my business gradually.

The most helpful part of SiLL were the one-to-one meetings with one of the SiLL Champions. It was very useful and I was able to get more clarity about starting my business, including creating further awareness through the use of social media, being able to connect and collaborate with other aspiring authors and business owners in my field and ultimately, focusing on my target audience which helped to create a catered/tailored service to those that publish their book with the Authentic Worth brand. 

Further support for you

Attendees at BIPC workshop

The end of the Start-ups in London Libraries programme certainly does not mean the end of business support for you! We have plenty of online resources to help guide you on your business journey as well as our Innovating for Growth programme which is here to help you to continue building your business whether that means adjusting to ‘the new normal’ or scaling up. Our advisers and external consultants will help you to be more resilient and adaptable in the face of a changing future. 


Shop local this festive season

According to Mintel research (which you can access for free in many BIPCs around the UK), 25% of consumers say they are shopping more with local businesses due to Covid-19*. This isn’t just via the traditional bricks and mortar stores, but online as well, with 44% of consumers shopping more online during the pandemic, as detailed in their COVID-19 Retail and E-commerce: A Year On in the UK report. So, we’re bringing you a selection of small businesses who have used the BIPC services around the UK, to give you some inspiration for gifts, not only for Christmas, but year round.

Treats for everyone

Margaret alongside a variety of Cubby Salve products

One business who received support from BIPC Glasgow, Cubby Salve, founded by Margaret (or Mimi to her cubbies), makes gentle, small-batch, skincare. Each Salve & Body Bar is made with natural ingredients and is blended and hand poured by Margaret in Cubby’s Salve Kitchen.

Cost: Gift sets from £28.99

Where to buy? Cubby Salve

For those with green fingers

Marcela holding a sacpot

Sacpots are tough yet lightweight ethical plant pots designed to be shaped by you. Sacpots are rot-proof, water resistant, and can be placed inside or outside, available in hundreds of colour mixes. The elastic neck lowers water consumption and the insulating fabric accommodates root growth with full stretch indicating it’s time to pot on. Dispatched with a liner in a post box friendly envelope, your washable Sacpots will store flat after use. Handmade by Marcela Livingston in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Marcela received IP guidance to protect her idea and help with general market research with BIPC Leeds through the free access to its databases.

Cost: £17

Where to buy? Sacpot

Pott(er)y about ceramics

A dark blue bowl, created by Elena

Elena creates handmade functional and decorative ceramics at Sunken Studio and in her own studio in Leeds. Products include handmade mugs and bowls can be purchased via Instagram. Elena likes to play with surface patterns and geometries and decorate her creations with bright colours and uses natural elements she finds in her garden such as leaves to imprint and enrich surfaces. She is inspired by her surroundings and loves finding details and harmony in the shapes and colours of everyday life. Elena also finds inspiration from the places of her childhood, waves and rocks by the Sardinian sea. Elena used BIPC Leeds' ERDF funded Start-up Leeds programme to take her business to the next level, which included attending weekly workshops. 

Cost: Various (bowl, pictured, £30)

Where to buy? Instagram

For the bookworms

Carolynn Bain, founder of Afrori Books, with her hands together in front of a blue background

Afrori Books has the biggest selection of books by Black authors in the United Kingdom. Covering every genre that you are looking for with thousands of books in store and online. They have a simple mission: Support Black authors, create diverse bookshelves and be a voice for justice. Founder, Carolynn, had a one-to-one with BIPC Sussex to finding funding opportunities and to access their free databases, including COBRA.

Cost: Various

Where to buy? Afrori Books

For the chocoholics

Selection of Lucocoa chocolate bars

Lucocoa Chocolate, is London's first bean to bar chocolate making company based in North London. You won’t find any refined sugar or artificial sweeteners in these bars, instead Lucocoa opts for the healthier alternatives of coconut sugar and lucuma while also sourcing the best flavoured cocoa beans from around the world. Amarachi, founder of Lucocoa, used Innovating for Growth experts' advice to help scale her business as demand for her product grew rapidly.

Cost: Food and Drink hamper £60

Where to buy: Lucocoa

Get mistletoe ready

Terence Chung and colleagues holding FRUU lip balms

Our Circular Economy Start-Up Day panellist, FRUU, is a pioneering cosmetics company that specialises in turning fruit by-products into sustainable cosmetics. Started from the spare room of founders Terence Chung and Kelly Yee in 2017, FRUU developed as an initiative to add value to the waste produced in the agricultural waste stream, reduce the use of resource intensive materials, whilst making sustainability an accessible lifestyle. All products are designed, manufactured and produced from their workshop in London and FRUU is currently stocked in 1000+ stores in the UK, EU, Australia and South Korea. Terence also took part in Innovating for Growth to access professional expertise and advice on critical business areas, strategy planning, marketing and intellectual property. 

Cost: Gift boxes start at £2

Where to buy: FRUU

Zero-waste cordial

Natasha with her selection of cordials

Another from our Start-Up Day Circular Economy panel, Natasha from Urban Cordial started her business by foraging for ingredients in her allotment to turn them into cordials. Over a third of global food does not reach our plates, often because of the appearance of the item, even though it is perfectly safe to eat. Natasha, being aware of this issue, contacted local farms to source their surplus food produce and to date, Urban Cordial has helped to save over 100 tonnes of fruit from landfill. Urban Cordial’s production process is also zero waste with all fruit pulp going to the local farms to become animal feed.

Cost: Get the full range for £48

Where to buy: Urban Cordial

For those cosy nights in

Hot chocolate made with Kokoa tabs shown by the hot chocolate glass

A collection of single origin hot chocolates made with tablets and flakes of real chocolate; starting with White and then in varying cocoa percentages from Venezuela 58%, Organic Peru 70%, Academy of Chocolate Gold winning Haiti 75% up to a 100% pure cocoa! Everything, but the White, is registered with the Vegan Society so you can make it with your favourite milk.

Cost: Prices vary; use BLGIFT at checkout to get free shipping on all orders over £10.00 until the end of December!

Where to buy? Kokoa Collection

Handpicked luxury for the home and garden

Sophie Conran with some flowers in a dining room setting

At Sophie Conran they know that giving a personal gift to a loved one is the ultimate treat. Their collection has something unique to suit every special person in your life. From Sophie’s licensed ranges, exclusive collections and hand picked products, they have curated an inspirational shop for the whole home and garden.

Cost: Various

Where to buy: Sophie Conran

I’m dreaming of an Italian Christmas…

A bottle of Negroni by Primo Aperitivo next to a crystal glass filled with the cocktail

Primo Aperitivo encapsulates the very best of Italy making the Italian Aperitivo easy to enjoy in a sharing format. In addition to the most famous Italian Aperitivo, the Negroni cocktails, Primo Aperitivo is the first brand to release the Americano and Sbagliato cocktails, carbonated upon bottling, which create the first ever range of classic Italian Aperitivo cocktails in a ready to serve format. Primo is committed to serve the best and most authentic cocktails sustainably: each cocktail is produced and bottled using 100% renewable energy and every ingredient is produced at the distillery to reduce carbon footprint and wastage.

Cost: £27.90

Where to buy: Primo Aperitivo

Precious stones for a precious person

Tomasz Donocik Crocodile cufflinks

Innovating for Growth business, Tomasz Donocik, designs and manufactures bespoke and high jewellery sold worldwide in stores such as Saks Avenue (New York), Isetan Men (Japan) and Tsum (Moscow). If you are looking for something extra special, they also offer a bespoke tailor made service where clients can turn their dreams into modern day heirlooms.

Cost: Prices start at £250

Where to buy: Tomasz Donocik

For the creatives

Jen from Stitch and Story holding a ball of yarn and knitting needles

Stitch & Story is a craft kits company based in London, revamping knitting and crochet as simple, modern and aspirational skills. They empower people to start their own creative projects and tell their own stories using chunky yarns, easy-to-follow instructions and online video tutorials. Stitch & Story believe in the power to create, personalise and achieve something meaningful by bringing out the artisan in everyone. Co-founder, Jennifer Lam, took part in our Innovating for Growth programme and with the help of IP experts; she has launched her business in international markets.

Cost: Various gift offers

Where to buy: Stitch & Story

Fashionable butchers for a Christmas lunch

Flock & Herd's Turkey at Christmas dinner surrounded by other plates of Christmas food

A small but growing butchery located in Peckham and Beckenham, Flock & Herd aim to provide the very best possible quality and range of produce, combined with their service and experience. This Christmas they have carefully selected the best festive treats from Appledore Free Range Turkey to a perfectly dry aged Ayshire Rib of Beef, whether it’s a small lunch for two or a family feast there are plenty of tasty and delicious delights for you to enjoy.

Cost: Various + £30 deposit payable on the phone

Where to buy: Flock & Herd

For those with a sweet tooth

Snowman piñata from Sweet Paper Creations, with Christmas decorations

If you're tired of board games and looking for a fun family activity to do on Christmas day, Sweet Paper Creations have just what you need! The business supported by the Start-ups in London Libraries project in Waltham Forest make and sell piñatas, made from recycled materials, for any occasion, you can even commission your own bespoke character! The profits from their shop help to deliver their “Make It and Break It” workshops, which provide a creative outlet for those suffering from mental health issues, stress, bereavement.

Cost: Various (Snowman, pictured, £30)

Where to buy: Sweet Paper Creations

Get glamourous

Model wearing a necklace from Delmora

Visit Delmora's online shop for the perfect gift to add a touch of Christmas sparkle to any outfit. Delmora took part in the Start-ups in London Libraries project in the borough of Bexley, they offer a variety of beautiful jewellery items and accessories to help you turn a 'good look' into a 'great look'. 

Cost: Various

Where to buy: Delmora

Make a splash

Moon Cycle Bath Bomb from Haus of CBD

Haus of 420 have just what you need to unwind after the big day of festivities! Handcrafted using pure and organic CBD, essential oils and detoxifying natural spa mineral salts. It offers you consistency, relief, balance and calm resulting in the best nights sleep you’ve probably had in a while. Each bath bomb contains 50mg of CBD and 100% peace. Haus of 420 received local support in Lewisham from the Start-ups in London Libraries project.

Cost: £9

Where to buy: Haus of 420

Spread the Christmas cheer

Gingerbread greeting card from MerryCherie, next to a cookie cutter

MerryCherie offer a beautiful range of positive wellbeing cards for you to share with your friends and family over the festive season. They are proud to be as environmentally friendly as possible, the cards are wrapped in recycled brown paper and safely and securely packaged in hardbacked/padded envelopes for postage. The Start-ups in London Libraries local support in Lewisham helped Sheree-Marie to start her business MerryCherie.

Cost: (Gingerbread card, pictured, £2.95)

Where to buy: MerryCherie

Handmade with care

Norio knots Woven Necklace Kit from Crafty North Londoner

Crafty North Londoner is a group of London based artisans producing non-mass produced handmade products, with sustainable and ethical practices at the forefront of their activities. The business supported by Start-ups in London Libraries in Haringey offer beautifully created products so you can make sure the gift you give is the most unique one under the tree.

Cost: Various (Mini Necklace Kit, pictured, £24+)

Where to buy: NorioKnots