THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

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

Introduction

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

29 July 2019

Follow JRPass’ Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Branding and research

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun’s first blog on refining your business model and developing a growth strategy here, but this week, he talks us through the next lot of workshops and one-to-ones…

Branding

Tuesday 23 July

A large part of what attracted me to the Innovating for Growth programme was the branding component. It’s something that I have been thinking a lot about of late and we have to do much more work on. This week I attended the Branding workshop run by ABA agency. There were a lot of takeaways, especially concerning building an identity and the power of personality of a brand. This is vital in terms of your positioning in the marketplace, and crafting an authentic story with messaging behind your company’s journey. The most interesting and fun part was to break your brand identity down into terms of personality archetypes, for example The Magician, The Outlaw, The Lover!

For JRPass.com, I chose three:

  1. The Sage – At JRPass.com we are domain experts with deep knowledge of Japan. I hope we have sage-like characteristics of being smart, knowledgeable and wise about travelling there. One example being the free planning tools we provide for events such as the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
  2. The Ruler – As a company we are responsible and reliable in processing and dealing with our customer’s important and time-sensitive orders. We take great care in looking after our customers and ensuring they have a stress-free experience. 
  3. The Explorer – This should be self-explanatory! We don’t sell packages and hope to encourage independent travel and hope to facilitate some wonderful discoveries and experiences.
World Cup
JRPass free planning tools for events such as the upcoming Rugby World Cup

At first this seemed quite an abstract exercise but it actually really did help to drill down into the character of our company brand.

Research

This week I also had a one-to-one to introduce me to the Business & IP Centre’s business research facilities. We can gain access to normally quite expensive industry reports from leading intel agencies on marketplace conditions and competitor analysis (Ed note: The Business & IP Centre has over £5m worth of online market reports from top publishers Mintel, Frost & Sullivan, Euromonitor and more as well as company data, business directories and more!). It was cool to see on one report on rail passes in Japan, our site was listed as the leader worldwide!

Visit our website for more information about the programme and how to apply.

You can read the next part of Haroun's Innovating for Growth diary here. 

26 July 2019

Working the crowd - how to successfully crowdfund

My Friend Charlie is an offline dating events company based in London, offering unique activities at local venues for sociable singles. In the past 18 months, the business has gained significant traction - with an engaged database of over 2000 users and over 50 events held in London alone, which have attracted 700+ attendees. 

Here we talk to My Friend Charlie's founder, Charlotte Spokes, about how her company successfully crowdfunded when they were setting up, and she helps us to demystify the complexity of crowdfunding. 

Let’s start right at the very beginning, what is equity crowdfunding?

In short, you are asking the ‘crowd’ (family, friends and strangers) to invest money into your business in exchange for equity. The appeal of crowdfunding is that most people invest small amounts (anything from £10), so it allows everyday investors to get involved where previously they wouldn’t have been able to. The main platforms for equity crowdfunding in the UK are Crowdcube, Seedrs and SyndicateRoom, but there are lots of others, so do your research to see which will be the best fit for your business, based on the industry and the amount you need to raise. There are lots of success stories from these platforms including BrewDog, Monzo and Revolut, and of course there are much smaller companies raising money there too.

Charlotte Spokes, founder of My Friend Charlie


Why do people choose crowdfunding over other methods of raising money?

There are many ways to raise money to finance a start-up, but crowdfunding has a very strong appeal to early-stage businesses and for good reason, most importantly the fact that it is quite straightforward. It also works as a way of getting external validation or marketing your business to a whole new audience and, when potential investors ask questions on your pitch, it’s a useful way of getting feedback on points you may not have considered. Given that crowdfunding campaign costs are based on a successful raise, it can be an inexpensive way to raise funds, and relatively low-risk to do too. As long as you’ve got the skills, the upfront costs for producing your video and writing your pitch can be kept to a minimum.

What are the pitfalls of crowdfunding?

The biggest downside is that if you don’t hit your target, you don’t get any of the funds raised, and you’ve done a lot of work for no reward. This means it is a high stress, high energy process that takes several months to prepare for and then carry out with no guarantee of success. Plus, you have to be prepared for questions and a lot of constructive criticism, as you’re opening your business up to scrutiny from not only your nearest and dearest but a whole host of seasoned investors.

What made your campaign for equity crowdfunding successful?

There isn’t a single factor that made our campaign a success but there are four critical points which ensured we hit our target:
● Traction - as an existing business we could show what we had done to date: what worked, what didn't, and where our clients came from. In essence, we had proof of concept before going out to the crowd. This isn’t always the case and doesn’t mean that without traction you can’t raise successfully but it helped us to clarify our pitch and put it across succinctly to investors.
● Preparation - be prepared to answer lots of questions (and the same ones over and over again). We created a crib sheet so that when the same questions came through we could copy and paste answers that we knew were well thought through, rather than rush a response because we felt time-pressured. It also helped to keep our messaging consistent and on-brand.
● Raising privately - we raised 39% from our private network before going live to the public network. You can go publicly live at 20% on Crowdcube but you’ve got a much higher chance of success if you raise as much as you can from your own network first, which means family, friends, your business network, and existing guests/clients.
● Social media - we really hammered this. We posted on every channel available to us, including our personal accounts, for the duration of the private and public raise. LinkedIn is a great tool here - use it to your advantage and start making people aware of the opportunity as early as possible. We learned quickly that people take a long time to make decisions when it comes to parting with money.

Charlotte Spokes at one of her events

How did you promote your campaign?

Social media was our main channel but we also sent our regular updates through our own newsletter and via the Crowdcube platform. I spent a lot of time emailing anyone who’d shown interest in the campaign and followed up with them regularly. We also had a dedicated landing page on our website to make sure we reached as many people as possible. We decided not to spend money on paid advertising on Facebook or Google Ads, as we’d heard that the return on investment is low and we didn’t have a big marketing budget.

Who can help prepare my Crowdcube pitch?

We opted to use Drop Studio and signed up to their crowdfunding accelerator as well as getting them to produce our pitch video. This basically gave us a marketing team for the duration of the raise and we couldn't have managed without them. There are lots of companies offering a similar service, so do your research and find someone who fits your needs and budget.

A My Friend Charlie offline dating event

What are SEIS & EIS?

SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) and EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) are UK government tax relief schemes for investors and they are incredibly generous.

SEIS allow an eligible investor to claim 50% on investments up to £100,000 per tax year in qualifying shares issued on or after 6 April 2012 .

EIS is aimed at the wealthier, more sophisticated investors. People can invest up to £1,000,000 in any tax year and receive 30% tax relief. However, they are locked into the scheme for a minimum of three years.

They are great tools to help persuade investors to part with their money by effectively reducing their financial risk.

It is dependent on each individual and there are certain criteria for the business in order to get advanced assurance so it’s worth getting some advice on this. Additionally it takes around six weeks to get advanced assurance so apply early!

What’s next for My Friend Charlie?
It’s all go! We’ve just launched our own events and CRM platform. We’ve built it from scratch based on the pain points we’ve encountered over the last two years and it’s looking great, and we’ve got native apps to follow which are based off the same tech. We opened in Bristol last month (which was incidentally the day after our second birthday!) and we’ve got three more cities in the pipeline (Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh). It all started with our crowdfunding pitch and look at us now!

Follow JRPass’ Director through the Innovating for Growth programme

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. Over to Haroun…

Hi, my name is Haroun and am one of the founders of JRPass. I have always had a passion for travel, especially rail as a sustainable way for people to get around. Alongside my two co-founders, we founded the company a few years ago straight out of uni, and it has grown steadily and beyond our initial expectations. We are known worldwide as the leaders in sales of the Japan Rail Pass, which offers unlimited train travel for people visiting Japan for 1, 2 or 3 week durations. Our website forum is also a well known destination for travelers to swap tips on their journeys. We have since expanded into mobile WiFi, regional tickets, meet and greet services and are looking to expand further. With the Rugby World Cup in Japan this year, and the Olympics next, this is the ideal time for us to look at our strategy for the future.

How to use your Japan Rail Pass from JRPass.com on Vimeo.

Refining Your Business Model

Friday 5 July

So, today we had our first proper introduction to the programme. We were introduced to the Business Model Canvas, which is a way of visually constructing the 'state of your play’ of your business, further opportunities and future strategy. As a company we have grown organically and very quickly so this was a really good opportunity to step back, take a deep breath and take time to test our assumptions, spot gaps and look for areas of improvement. All the sessions after this feed into the model. 

What was really interesting about the session was the variety of businesses that the other attendees had. No two business were similar. As part of an exercise we modelled each other’s businesses using the canvas and it was quite enlightening to see how outside eyes view your own baby! I am looking forward to the upcoming sessions on growth strategy, branding, marketing, product Innovation, IP protection and more, where I can add even more insights into my own personal canvas.

Developing a Growth Strategy

Thursday 11 July

Today was our first personal one-to-one focusing on opportunities for future growth, with Uday from Red Ochre Consulting. JRPass has grown quite organically over the years and it was really useful to see Uday laser in on areas that needed addressing as we grow. As we move from a smaller informal organisation, where individuals like myself wear many business hats, to one with stronger distinct departments, it is really important to take time and assess such a change, with future opportunities in mind. I left the session with a bunch of action points on what to take now within the business, and openings for the future that I will be researching and building upon over the next few months.

Aside from the Innovating for Growth programme, I made use of the other workshops taking place in the Business & IP Centre and attended a Hiring masterclass. Hiring is probably one of my own weaker areas which I don’t really enjoy spending a lot of time on, so I gained a lot from the class (one thing being I really should get other people to do that stuff for me as they would be better!). As I was part of the Innovating for Growth programme, we were offered discounted tickets, another benefit! 

Visit our website for more information about the programme and how to apply. You can read part 2 of Haroun's diary here.

22 July 2019

PRECIOUS Nights at Manchester Library

Business & IP Centre Manchester became the first venue outside of London to host PRECIOUS Nights, an evening aimed at professional women of colour. 

PRECIOUS Nights 2

The founder of PRECIOUS Awards, Foluke Akinlose MBE FRSA, is a Mancunian at heart, so it was extra special being able to host the event in her city.

Foluke explained, "It was hugely exciting to take PRECIOUS Nights on the road and even more exciting for me personally to host the first one in Manchester, my home town.

“It was also a wonderful opportunity to showcase the work of three Manchester based entrepreneurs contributing so successfully to the GDP of the city and beyond. We had a lovely audience, they were really welcoming and engaged which led to a very open and honest conversation about being a women of colour in business in modern Britain. Huge thanks Manchester Business & IP Centre for hosting us so warmly. We cannot wait to go back!"

As well as hearing Foluke's story, the rest of the panel included:

Roselene Thomas: Director and founder of Thomas UK Consulting Services Ltd, a company that provides IT software testing services with headquarters in Manchester, UK and offices in India.  

Dijonn Taylor: Founder of two award-winning businesses. Starting with a desire to empower and reward children at all levels of education through experiencing a traditional graduation ceremony, in 1997 she staged the first ever cap and gown graduation ceremony in the UK at a Manchester Primary School. Soon after her business Young Graduate was born.

Her second business venture Savvy Guest was created to facilitate pre-career meetups between adults and employees for pre-career chats. Dijonn realised people were experiencing barriers when trying to gain access to employers for a conversation to gain realistic career tips and insight into job roles and the industry.

Lisa Maynard Atem: Social media strategist with a proven track record at the world’s most famous luxurious department store, Harrods, where she worked with numerous luxury brands including CHANEL, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and GUCCI.

Lisa built and developed a global social portfolio that now boasts over 2.5 million followers across key social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Harrods is now the most followed luxury department store in Europe on Instagram and one of the most followed in the world, with over 1.1 million followers.

It was hosted by transformational counsellor, blogger and the founder of Self-Central, Lisa Bent.

Audiences at PRECIOUS Nights can hear from previous PRECIOUS Awards finalists and winners about their business journey, get actionable tips, be inspired and build networks with new contacts. The PRECIOUS Awards were founded in 2007 to celebrate and applaud the professional achievements of women of colour in the UK. The organization has a dynamic and passionate following, gained over twelve years of bringing brilliant women into the spotlight and celebrating the 'Best of British' by recognising and rewarding exceptional determination, innovation and entrepreneurial skills across multiple sectors and inspiring women of colour to succeed in business and professional life.

Jonathan Ebbs, Service Development Specialist at Business & IP Centre Manchester said, “The evening was full of powerful, inspiring stories including lots of shared tips and anecdotes from the audience. It was one of the buzziest events Business & IP Centre Manchester has seen, with lots of laughter but also a real passion and desire to help each other to succeed”.

Precious panel

For more information about PRECIOUS and to see upcoming events, visit their website. You can discover everything Business & IP Centre Manchester has to offer here.

19 July 2019

How the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas can help your start-up

Business & IP Centre workshop partner, Neil Lewis, explores how the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas give start-ups the stamina and vision to succeed.

The Breakthrough Canvas v3.0 A4

Question: What’s the secret to building a successful start-up?

Answer: A powerful sense of purpose that provides the ability and stamina to keep going through both the good times and the tough times whilst always providing an attractive draw to supporters, resources and potential customers.

Hence, you’d expect a start-up business model to prioritise ‘purpose’ in the earliest stage of planning, but this key feature is lacking in the standard business model canvas.

The original Business Model Canvas remains rooted in a logical left-brained deductive process that fails to build unique and exciting business models. Nor does it capture the purpose, the energy or the passion of the founders that stand behind their start-ups.

That is why we completely rebuilt the canvas as the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas and place ‘purpose’ as the heart of this new innovative model.

The Breakthrough Canvas 3-0

Why does Purpose matter?

Two key reasons: Vision and stamina

Firstly, as a start-up or scale-up you are making promises about what you *will* deliver and what you *can* deliver in the future. You need a variety of people; customers, partners, investors, supporters… to come alongside you and ‘buy into’ your vision.

Even if you already have a functioning product, your supporters still have to ‘buy your future vision. And to be convincing, you have to show why your team is built for this future solution, why it is in your DNA, why it is your purpose.

Secondly, by creating your start-up or scale-up out of your sense of purpose, you are telling your supporters that you have the stamina to follow through — that you are determined to make it work and that you have the energy and passion to overcome the barriers and challenges that we all know you will face.

And this outward expression of your inner drive that so effectively engages with start-up and scale-up supporters, does not come from better business model engineering but by discovering your purpose and passion and learning to express that purpose with greater clarity and increased impact.

As the original business model canvas fails to capture this raw emotional connection, we lose sight of a crucial part of what makes your business attractive, what makes it unique and why it should be supported and championed.

You might say the purpose of The Breakthrough Canvas is to ensure your startup or scaleup remains ‘unique’!

“There are already lots of copycat businesses out there — so be different, be unique, be you and be uncopiable, unmatchable!”

And, because The Breakthrough Canvas is emotionally powerful for your team, they too will also have a powerful motive to take action and to inspire others to become supporters — customers, team members, investors and so on and so forth.

Pivot in — not Pivot out!

Pivot

How the Breakthrough Business Model Canvas can help you and your team will depend on the questions you are asking and the challenges that you face.

However, a typical conundrum that start-ups face is whether to pivot or not. In this example, The Breakthrough Canvas has helped entrepreneurs switch from ‘pivoting out’ to ‘pivoting in’. For instance, a media team found that their sector — gig reviews and student media — was awash with people willing to write for free.

Their question began as — “how do we change our business to find a sustainable economic model? Do we switch to writing generic marketing copy or website blogs because they pay more money?”

Following a session using The Breakthrough Business Model Canvas and refocusing on what this team really loved to do, we discovered a new business model — working alongside the student media editorial teams at their high-pressure publication dates to provide last minute reviews, editorials and editing.

This switch of focus happened when we changed the question from ‘who will pay us for our words’ to ‘what are we exceptionally good at (because it’s our purpose — our ‘why’) and who works in that space that we can add value to’.

By asking the ‘purpose’ question first and following through with questions about customer needs and motivations, this start-up pivoted inwards and deeper, rather than pivoting outwards and into the headwinds of a lot of competition where they would have been ‘good’ but not standout exceptional.

What next?

Manchester bl 2

There are regular workshops at the Business & IP Centre London on The Breakthrough Business Model Canvas which can help you uncover your purpose and super-charge your start-up’s growth, visit our Events and Workshops page to find out when the next one is. Alternatively, you can search online for a coach who can take you through the canvas to help you uncover deeper and more powerful answers.

Neil Lewis, founder of Media Modo

Neil delivers coaching, tools and workshops to help you discover your start-up purpose, gain lift-off and magnify growth. He is a regular workshop leader at the Business & IP Centres in London and Manchester.

15 July 2019

First Aid and the Law – a quick and easy guide for SMEs

First Aid for Life was founded by Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups alumni, Emma Hammett, who is now a mentor on the Innovating for Growth: Mentoring programme. First Aid for Life is a fully regulated first aid training business with experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals, who tailor their training to the needs of the organization. They also have online courses, suitable for all businesses. Here Emma talks about first aid for SMEs…

2015-01-05 15.31.36

As SME owners, we are ultimately responsible for all aspects of our businesses. Complying with health and safety and first aid legislation can be confusing and somewhat daunting.

Consequently we have produced a clear guide to the most important elements of the First Aid at Work The Health and Safety Regulations 1981, outlining the key legal requirements and responsibilities that all businesses have to comply with, whether as sole traders or employers, to ensure they remain within the law.

Legal duty

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require all employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and suitably trained personnel. This is to ensure employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.

It doesn’t matter whether the injury or illness is caused by the work itself, what’s important is that the worker receives immediate and appropriate attention and that an ambulance is called when necessary. First aid is of critical importance in saving lives and preventing minor injuries becoming major ones.

Complying with the regulations to the best of your ability is both a legal imperative and demonstrates a duty of care for your staff, clients and customers.

How many first aiders do we need?

Businesses need to ensure that there is adequate provision of appropriately trained personnel to provide first aid cover for all working hours on all sites, based on individual businesses risk assessments (including cover for absence due to holidays, off-site trips, sickness and any other reason). Take a look at Appendix 3 of the latest HSE guidance for more information. The following is a brief overview:

  • As a sole trader you still need to make appropriate provision for first aid and ensure that there is a suitably stocked first aid kit, you are competent to use it and it is sensible to consider potential risks to your customers and clients too.
  • For an employer with up to 20 employees in a low-risk environment, it is sufficient to have an Appointed Person qualification or other appropriate training to enable them to competently help in an emergency. This training can be practical or online.
  • For a business with up to 50 employees in a low-risk environment they should arrange for first aiders to attend regulated Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training, tailored to the needs of employees and those they serve. This regulated training can be taken as practical training or enhanced blended learning, with up to a third of the theoretical elements online prior to the practical training.
  • For larger businesses and those with a higher risk profile, it is necessary for first aiders to undertake a relevant three day First Aid at Work course. This too can be undertaken as blended learning, with one day pre-learning online and two days in the classroom. Re-qualification courses for those with an in-date FAW certificate, are two days. Certificates are valid for three years.

It is vital that all businesses ensure staff have

  1. undertaken suitable training
  2. have an appropriate and in-date first-aid qualification
  3. undertake regular refreshers to ensure the skills remain current and they remain competent to perform their first aid role.

Risk assessment for the workplace

All businesses (whether sole traders or employers) must undertake a full assessment of first-aid needs appropriate to the circumstances (hazards and risks), number of employees and nature of the business, for each workplace. For smaller businesses, this does not necessarily need to be a written document.

Where work involves higher level hazards such as chemicals or dangerous machinery, or special hazards such as hydrofluoric acid or confined spaces, first aid requirements will be greater and specialist training will be needed.

Employers may then need to consider additional equipment, inform local emergency services, etc.

Adult look listen and feel

Risk assessment of workforce

Some workers may have additional specific health and safety risks. Young workers, trainees, pregnant workers and employees with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions, where known (e.g. asthma, diabetes, allergies, epilepsy or a history of heart disease), should be incorporated in the risk assessment, whilst ensuring full compliance with confidentiality and data protection.

First-aid provision for non-employees

Employers are not required by Health and Safety law to provide first aid for anyone other than their own employees. However, organisations, providing services for others are strongly recommended to include non-employees in their assessment of first-aid needs and make provision for them as an integral part of their duty of care. This may require first aiders to receive additional training above the legal minimum requirement so that they are able to act competently, for example additional training in paediatric first aid if relevant to your customer base – such as a family restaurant.

First Aid for Life

Records

All employers have duties under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) to report certain work-related injuries, cases of ill health and dangerous occurrences. The HSE will pass details onto the relevant enforcing authority. RIDDOR applies to all work activities but not all incidents are reportable.

It is also advised that employers have an accident report book in which they record all incidents, this must be stored in line with the Data Protection Act.

Additional training 

Good first aid training businesses should assist you to ascertain your first aid requirements and help you organise the most appropriate training for your organisation, tailoring and adding in extra elements if required.

HSE strongly recommends annual refresher training (practical or online) during any three-year FAW/EFAW certification period.

Employers should also encourage first-aiders to regularly review their first aid course manuals or top up with quality online training and allocate them time to do this.

Defibrillators (AEDs)

There is no legal requirement for businesses to provide a defibrillator. However, the recovery statistics are compelling; if someone has a cardiac arrest in the community the odds of them surviving are only about 6%. If a defibrillator is readily available, they are in a shockable rhythm and the AED is deployed within three minutes – the odds jump to 74%. Hence, many businesses decide purchasing an AED is a critically important element of first aid provision.

If you invest in a defibrillator it is necessary to ensure staff receive appropriate training to use it. This training should be incorporated into the routine first aid training for your team at no additional cost.

12 July 2019

IP Corner: The inventions of Leonardo da Vinci

Sitting on the train reading the news on my mobile phone today it struck me how far the humble telephone has come since the day it was first invented by Alexander Graham Bell. The mobile phone still does what Bell intended, it allows two people to talk to each other at a distance, but over the years improvements have been made to Bell’s invention so that mobile phones are now telephones and so much more. And this is true of practically everything we use today.

Take someone like Leonardo da Vinci, we currently have an exhibition of his drawings, diagrams and handwritten notes here at the British Library (Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion) and whilst many people may know him as a great Renaissance painter, perhaps most famous for La Giocconda better known as the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci was also a great visionary with ideas such as:  

  • a flying machine
  • an underwater breathing apparatus
  • a diving bell
  • an armoured car
  • a revolving crane
  • a parachute
  • a pulley
  • water-powered mills and engines
  • single-span bridges

Let’s take a look at a few of Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas and see how inventors brought variations of the ideas into being, whilst not necessarily being the first to patent!

A flying machine

Leonardo - Mumford 1
Edwin Mumford's patent GB3214 of 1905

 

Leonardo da Vinci created a design for a machine that is sometimes described as an "aerial screw", unfortunately, Leonardo’s drawings do not indicate that he came up with a way to stop the machine once it had taken flight. Like all inventions though, Leonardo’s “aerial screw” was taken and improved upon by people such as British inventor, Edwin Mumford. A naval architect from Dumbarton, who came up with an invention titled ‘Improvements in or connected to Aerodromes or flying machines’ and received patent GB3214 of 1905 for his trouble.

Leonardo - Mumford
Edwin Mumford's patent GB3214 of 1905

An underwater breathing apparatus

The first underwater breathing apparatus to be patented was the Rouquayrol regulator, a device intended to regulate the flow of compressed air. This was invented in 1860 (1860 44655) by Frenchman Benoit Rouquayrol, a mining engineer from Aveyron in France. Originally the invention was intended to assist miners to escape flooded mines, but Rouquayrol adapted his invention in 1864 (1864 63606) and patented it under the title ‘moyens propres à protéger les plongeurs’ or ‘means to protect divers’.

A diving bell

A British inventor by the name of John Stapleton invented ‘Apparatus for working under water’ in 1693 under patent GB318. Stapleton’s idea was for a device that allowed a person enclosed in it to walk under water. Unfortunately the patent doesn’t have any diagrams so we will have to use our imagination to visualise the apparatus in actual use. However, it might have looked like this:

Diving bell
Diving bell, Marinmuseum (Naval museum), Karlskrona, Sweden ©Henrik Sendlebach 2015

An armoured car

Leonardo da Vinci's armoured car invention was regarded as a forerunner of the modern tank. Covered in sheets of metal, the armoured car was intended to be capable of moving in any direction and was to be kitted out with a large number of weapons. It even had a turret on top to aid steering of the vehicle and aiming correctly when firing the weapons. In truth, the armoured car as designed by Leonardo would never have worked as it was far too heavy for humans to move and far too small for animals to be used to manoeuvre it.

Car
An armoured tank designed by Leonardo da Vinci at the Château d'Amboise (this work has been released into the public domain by its author, AYArktos. This applies worldwide)

In 1898 Frederick Simms an engineer from London was granted a patent, GB7387 of 1898, for his ‘Motor driven car for use in warfare’.

Leonardo -warfare
Frederick Simms' patent GB7387 of 1898

The problem with armoured cars, as was discovered during the First World War, was that the wheels of the vehicle sank into the mud of the battlefields. The solution was to add caterpillar tracks to the vehicles so that it was capable of moving over any terrain, but this didn’t happen until later.

Although when others later tried to reproduce the ideas in Leonardo’s drawings they often found that they didn’t work as they should and needed modifications. Had there been a patent system in place in Leonardo’s day, the fact that his ideas worked in theory would have been enough to get him a patent as there is no requirement of the inventor to supply a prototype or other proof that their idea works in reality. This often leads to claims that the patent, once granted, should be declared invalid and, of course, if the inventor could not get his or her invention to work then there would be no chance for them to commercialise it.

Today users of the Business & IP Centre can speak to our partners who specialise in prototyping to get an expert opinion on whether their idea has legs or not, or they can take advantage of joining our Inventors’ Club which meets on the final Monday of every month.

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

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

08 July 2019

Scotland’s first Business & IP Centre launches in Glasgow

April saw the launch of Scotland’s first Business & IP Centre outside of England, in partnership with Glasgow Life, the National Library of Scotland and Santander. Business & IP Centre Glasgow take us behind the scenes of the launch event…

18942404
Dr John Scally, CEO National Library of Scotland & National Librarian, Dr Bridget McConnell, CEO Glasgow Life and Roly Keating, Chief Exec British Library

The run up to the launch was not without its challenges! Co-ordinating the diaries of the heads of service from Glasgow Life, the National Library of Scotland and the British Library was no easy feat  - so we were delighted to welcome Dr Bridget McConnell (CEO Glasgow Life), Dr John Scally (CEO National Library of Scotland and National Librarian) and Roly Keating (CEO British Library) to the Mitchell Library on Friday 26 April 2019, fittingly on the same day as World IP Day, to sign the collaboration agreement to officially launch Scotland’s first Business & IP Centre in Glasgow.

Glasgow’s Centre offers local businesses and entrepreneurs access to intellectual property and business information, workshops, one-to-one advice sessions and inspiring events. Our latest evaluation showed we helped to create over 340 new businesses in the last three years with our Business @ The Mitchell service and during our pilot Business & IP Centre phase.[1]. Business & IP Centre Glasgow is delivered in partnership with the National Library of Scotland. A strategic partnership which effectively benefits Glasgow’s business community through enhanced access to business resources available from The Mitchell Library and the National Library of Scotland’s Kelvin Hall campus. Under the Business & IP Centre brand we have been successful in attracting additional delivery partners including our first Entrepreneur in Residence, Rachel Jones (CEO of Snapdragon IP, Director of Totseat). We are also proud to be accessible and welcoming, which has encouraged a variety of users, including 68% women and 45% under 35s, with 46% of entrepreneurs describing themselves as having a social and environmental aim[2].

At the launch event, our partners and local entrepreneurs heard from our panel of speakers Dr Bridget McConnell (CEO Glasgow Life), Dr John Scally (CEO National Library of Scotland and National Librarian), Roly Keating (CEO British Library), Sue Douthwaite (MD Santander Business) and local entrepreneur Kevin Cowan (x10 Solutions), who outlined his experience of using the business information resources and services at The Mitchell to grow his business.

Annie
Annie Campbell, founder of Campbell Medical Illustrations

Another entrepreneur who has benefitted from the Centre is Annie Campbell, founder of Campbell Medical Illustrations, which was established in May 2018. After attending the introductory workshop on how to research her market and intellectual property, she had the reassurance to take her business forward, “The tools and free resources available at the Business & IP Centre Glasgow are second to none and the staff are great. I have a new sense of confidence and motivation.

To celebrate World Intellectual Property Day we finished the launch event with an IP workshop delivered by Business & IP Centre Glasgow’s business information librarian, Tony Lyon.

Everyone at Business & IP Centre Glasgow had a fantastic time at the launch. It was great to experience the genuine enthusiasm and support for the Centre from our partners, entrepreneurs and business support organisations. Joining the network has been a positive move for us and we are looking forward to our journey as part of the Business & IP Centre National Network family as it continues to grow. It’s great to see nationally, across all Business & IP Centres that an additional 7,843 jobs have been created from the 12,288 businesses who have started up with Business & IP Centres[3].

Find out more about the services on offer click here, or follow Business & IP Centre Glasgow on Twitter.

Ruth Hunter, Partnership and Outreach Manager, Mitchell Library

[1] ERS economic impact survey of BIPC users, March 2019

[2] ERS economic impact survey of BIPC users, March 2019

[3] ERS economic impact survey of BIPC users, March 2019

07 July 2019

A week in the life of…Emma Richards, Business Outreach Manager at the IPO

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is a government department responsible for granting Intellectual Property rights including Trade Marks, Registered Designs and Patents.

Emma has worked for the IPO for 20 years after studying Business and Marketing in the University of Wales in Cardiff. She is experienced in delivering and advising on all aspects of Intellectual Property. She has worked in the Business Outreach Team for the past 12 years and travels the UK giving advice to SME’s and individuals who want help with their IP strategy.

Sunday Instead of packing the school bags ready for the madness of the school run, I’m packing my case and loading up the car to prepare for a busy week ahead. Leaving my husband with a long list of things to do, I give the kids a big cwtch and head to the other side of Newport to collect my colleague, Nick. We are heading off to Shrewsbury this evening and after a long car journey we finally arrive at the hotel at 20.30. After a quick bite to eat we retire to our rooms for an early night.

Monday I know the idea of having a hotel breakfast appeals to many people but the novelty soon wears off and the waist line tends to suffer! Nick has the right idea, he’s already been to the gym by the time we meet at 8.00 (I prefer the extra sleep myself). We’re fuelled up and ready to head over to the Shrewsbury Growth Hub. Today we are delivering an intellectual property workshop to a group of new businesses who are keen to learn the value. New to IP? Watch our short video below:

As many presenters will know, the curse of the Powerpoint is always ready to rear its head and it’s in full force this morning. With time ticking on we decide to continue minus the slides in true experienced improvisation mode.

Despite the problems with the IT, we delivered a successful workshop and after lunch I got ready for some one-to-one sessions and Nick headed off to the train station, no rest for the wicked as he was heading off to London.

After the last one-to-one session, I went back to the hotel and headed off for a run. Running in a strange location is always a bit risky, especially in the rural areas of the Shropshire countryside. After a few dices with death, I decided the safest place for me is in the swimming pool! Trying to time calling home is tricky with three young children and a husband at the end of his tether, but thanks to the wonders of the 21st century I am able to Facetime and admire the carnage! Then it’s a quick bite to eat and off to bed. Rock and roll!

Shrewsbury

Tuesday I head off to the Growth Hub again this morning to meet with another colleague. Today’s session is slightly different as the audience is now made up of business advisors. Whether a business is just starting out or already trading, IP should always be considered as part of their business plan. Our short video helps explain this in more detail:

Thankfully the IT is playing ball today and after lunch we get ready to meet local businesses. We invite two local businesses to explain their business to the advisors and during an interactive session they discuss the potential IP problems and opportunities and offer suggestions. It was a great afternoon, bringing together the role of the advisor and business and where IP fits into business planning.

I gather all my things and head off to my next location, Birmingham. Following another swim and challenging Facetime session with the kids I fall in to bed ready for the day ahead.

Wednesday This morning I am heading off to Aston Villa FC for the Midlands Expo.  I meet my colleague there who is based in the region and hoping to make contacts for further business support. The exhibition is targeted at SMEs in the area, so I am hoping to give lots of valuable IP advice today.

I start the day off with an IP talk to delegates, giving them an overview of IP and why it is important for them to consider. During the course of the day I speak to a variety of customers with many trade mark, copyright and designs queries. At 15.00 I am ready to head home and press my favourite button on the sat nav. I finally arrive home at around 18.00, but the fun doesn’t stop there! I’m faced with three excited children wanting to fill me in on the last three days in ten minutes and an exhausted husband who has clearly lost the will to live. I run the bath, start the conveyor belt of shampoo and pyjamas and get them off to bed feeling the happiness of this crazy normality.

After the craziness has calmed down my husband and I do the abridged version of the last few days and I am happy to head off to my own bed.

Thursday Today I’m heading in to the office, so after the madness of the school run I join the traffic. Being in a job that takes me out of the office most of the time, means I am in demand when I’m here. I find my day busy with meetings and planning and before I know it, it’s home time. The usual tea time/ bath time ensues and then I head off to meet my brother for some food and a theatre show.

Kids

Friday It’s my non-working day so I enjoy a nice long run, followed by a nail appointment. Having a non-working day is really important to me as it allows me to catch up on everything I’ve missed out on during the week while I’ve been away. I always make sure that we eat as a family on a Friday evening and we chat about the week we’ve had. After our meal we kick back and watch a film together before the chaos of bath time. With the kids safely in bed and allocated babysitter in place my husband and I head off to our local for the pub quiz and a bit of well-earned quality time together.

A week in my life is hectic, to say the least but a weekend with the kids…well that’s another story entirely! I end the week feeling I have made a difference and look forward to my next business event on the calendar.

02 July 2019

New partnership for female entrepreneurs with Make It Your Business

The Business & IP Centre and non-profit organisation, Make It Your Business, have partnered to support female entrepreneurs across the UK. The new partnership will include a roadshow of talks and networking events for female entrepreneurs in UK libraries, including those part of our National Network. These curated talks will draw on the Network’s alumni of successful female entrepreneurs and ambassadors.

2
Make It Your Business event

The Business & IP Centre has a strong history of supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life and across our service nationwide, over 60% of our users are women, compared to 20% of UK business owners.

Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Audiences at the British Library explains, “Since we opened the Business & IP Centre over a decade ago, we’ve seen consistently high numbers of women from all walks of life using our resources and expertise to launch successful businesses.

“As we work with public libraries to scale up and open more services throughout the UK, we’re struck time and time again by the trust entrepreneurs place in these buildings – they truly are safe spaces for people to voice their concerns, take informed risks and grow their ideas.

“We’re delighted to partner with Make It Your Business to carry on our work championing any woman with a business idea.”

The topic of breaking down barriers to female entrepreneurs and supporting their business journey has been more prominent recently, with the publishing of the Alison Rose Review (2019). This review was carried out to look at ways of reducing the disparity between male and female entrepreneurs and “unlock the potential that exists within the UK economy”. The benefits to businesses who have the greatest gender diversity on their executive teams are notable, with those companies being 21% more likely to outperform peers on profitability. An additional £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as their male counterparts.

One of the main opportunities identified as part of this report was to make entrepreneurship more accessible for women, through local support and relatable and accessible mentors and networks. The Business & IP Centre’s record of supporting women in business, throughout our National Network, highlights the importance of libraries in democratising business, providing a supportive, welcoming and open environment. Working with Make It Your Business creates even more opportunities for female entrepreneurs, as Alison Cork, founder of Make It Your Business agrees, “this UK wide initiative to encourage women to start their own business works because we are building strong local networking groups that give women the vital moral and practical support they need. As someone who is an entrepreneur, I have a particular interest in helping to foster enterprise and support women who want to take that first step into owning a business. If you are thinking of starting a business, or already run one, being part of a local support network can be hugely beneficial”.

As part of the Alison Rose Review, the main barriers to female entrepreneurs were explored, including funding concerns, family responsibilities and lack of accessibility, with 55% stating the fear of going it alone as the main reason for not starting a business. Women are 8% less likely to know an entrepreneur, compared to males, which impacted on their prospects of scaling their business. Within the Business & IP Centre, we have also seen this trend with our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, as since 2012, only 45% of businesses who have taken part are women-led, which may be due to women’s perception that they do not belong in the entrepreneurial world. 

Alison Cork adds, “It is so encouraging to hear the enthusiastic and upbeat feedback from women who have attended our events and then decided to take the first step into entrepreneurship. We want women all over the UK to have that opportunity.”

As part of our new partnership, Business & IP Centre users receive complimentary lifetime membership to Make It Your Business. Membership entitles you to attend any of their networking events, use their business mentoring service and also advertise your product or service in their business directory, all free of charge. To redeem your membership, email FREE MEMBERSHIP to hello@makeityourbusiness.co.uk.

1
Make It Your Business event

The Libraries Roadshow with Make It Your Business began in June at Business & IP Centre Birmingham. Additional dates in other locations will be announced soon.