Innovation and enterprise blog

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


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

23 May 2016

Writer in Residence Update: No Copyright? Wonderful!

Because I spent many years in business focused on developing new products I’m always looking for inspiration. New products rarely appear out of nowhere, instead we think of them because we see something that gets us thinking in a different way. I’ve been planning a new workshop for June based on using some of the British Library’s archival materials and I think there’s a whole new world to be explored when developing new products: the realms of expired copyright.

Alice in Wonderland: an out of copyright bestseller

Recently the British Library held an Alice in Wonderland exhibition, with an accompanying pop-up shop. So hugely popular was the shop that it stayed open well past the planned closure date. Most of the items were sourced through small independent designer-makers. Alice in Wonderland, of course, is a wonderful source of inspiration: it is a beloved classic, full of witty writing and illustrated with memorable flair. More importantly, it is out of copyright, and therefore any designer-maker is can develop their own interpretations of it and may freely use both the original text and illustrations. The result was badges, chocolates, clothing, colouring books, umbrellas, crockery, toys, bags and many more items.

So while copyright is an important protection, at the moment when it expires (in the UK, 70 years after the death of its creator, to give you a very rough idea – you should always check each item individually for any exceptions but there are experts on hand in the Business & IP Centre to do just that), it opens up a whole new world of inspiration and product possibilities which could be a goldmine for businesses.

A little exercise for your business


Here is an image used by the British Library in its shop, as a greetings card. It’s taken from a book, Birds of America. What would you have done with this image in your own business? How would you have used that image and the rest of the illustrations within the book for inspiration? Stop reading right now and write down 5 ideas. Right now. I dare you. Thinking out of the box around unusual items often brings us new ideas, whether directly connected or not, so it’s a useful exercise to do regularly.

Here are a few ideas: a game app where you collect endangered birds and protect them from poachers or other dangers; wallpaper (feathers are very ‘in’ right now in interior design); wrapping paper; fabric and lampshades; a children’s story book; the decor for a themed restaurant; branding your ‘kennels for pet birds’ or wildlife sanctuary or aviary; a talk for schools on the importance of conservation; a range of ‘superfood’ products from the Americas.


I’m running a workshop in June where we will be working with ten products taken from the British Library’s archives. All of them are copyright free. We’re going to practice working with them to develop new ideas, as well as exploring the new product development process and how you can make the most of it. We’ll also have an expert with us who will give us tips on how to search the British Library archives and check what you find is usable. You’ll leave buzzing with new ideas and I hope many of them will become real products in time.

There are millions of amazing items just waiting for your business to find them and turn them into bestsellers. Come along and explore.


Melissa Addey on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

Book for Melissa’s upcoming workshop ‘When Copyright Expires: Product development from the archives’ on the 20 June here.


19 May 2016

Kikka Digga - Business & IP Centre Success Story

Kikka-Digga logoOn Saturday I visited Plumpton College near Lewes, for their annual open day. On display amongst the new-born lambs, Sussex wines, tractors and chainsaws was a stand for Kikka Digga. With my curiosity for all things new, I sauntered over and chatted to the demonstrator Nick Skaliotis. It turned out this was the very first public outing for the his new invention, which he claimed would make digging gardens significantly easier.

Mid-way through our conversation I asked if Nick had patented his invention, he looked more closely at me and said, "I know you". It turned out he has been a regular in the Business & IP Centre at the British Library. In addition to getting help with his patent from our wonderful Inventor in Residence Mark Shehean. He also attended several of our workshops including lean start-up webinar, social media for business and trade marks.

Kikka-Digga image
After hearing Nick’s story I just had to buy his product to see if it really did live up to his claims. Also, I hoped it would help me to avoid the lower back-pain I now get every time I dig over my vegetable patch.

As soon as I got home I took the two pieces of metal out of package and installed them onto my fork. This was as simple as the instructions indicated with just two items to clamp onto my fork.

As you can see from my photos below, I was able to dig over a small section of my very weedy heavy clay soil quickly and easily using Kikka Digga. And, even better, I had no twinges in my lower back afterwards. So I am definitely sold on the product.

I also like the name Kikka Digga, for being simple and memorable. And it has even more k’s than the legendary Kodak brand. George Eastman said about the letter k, “it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.” I am also glad to see that Nick has registered the name at the UK Intellectual Property Office.

Kikka Digga trademark

You can see a demonstration of the invention in action on YouTube. And keep up to date with Nick’s progress on Facebook or Twitter.

I can’t wait to see how the gardeners of Great Britain take to this wonderful invention.

Kikka Digga 1

Kikka Digga newly assembled on my fork in seconds

Kikka Digga 2

My first few digs into my heavy clay soil are surprisingly easy

Kikka Digga 3

Misty is as impressed as I am by the speed and ease in digging up the plot.


By Neil Infield in the Business & IP Centre London team

11 May 2016

Scaling up with Innovating for Growth

And we’re off! This May we're welcoming fifteen new small businesses onto our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme. Since the launch in 2012 we have helped over 250 businesses reach their potential.

We know it can be difficult to take your business to the next level. So, if you've got a great idea for growth but need some objective advice and support then this could be the programme for you. 

I4G images
Caption: Innovating for Growth business products on display at the British Library

Successful applicants receive over £10,000 worth of business support on everything from marketing and branding to intellectual property. Over the course of three months you will work with at least eight specialist advisors who will help you grow from start-up to scale-up.

That’s not all - it costs you nothing but your time. And if you’re successful you will have the chance to refresh, reenergise and refocus your business. We are now accepting applications for July, click here for more information.

Here’s the lucky fifteen we are starting to work with this month. Could you be next?

Amplify Trading

Amplify Trading design and create education technology and processes for the banking and finance sector and in 2015 they won the CFA Institute global award for innovation in financial education for our practical approach to education.

Bramwell Brown Clocks

Bramwell Brown Clocks design wall clocks that mechanically move to demonstrate a barometric weather forecast or a local tide level. The clocks are UK-made and of premium quality, aimed at the contemporary home accessories market.

Chatty Feet

Chatty Feet bring back fun and silly moments into your life with our sock personalities. The socks are produced in Europe from high quality combed cotton with the illustrated character visible on both sides of the socks. ChattyFeet is sold in 9 countries and our collection grew from 4 to 27 characters in three years.


GymTote is the gym bag reimagined. They have created the world's first fully functional gym bag that looks like a handbag. Unique to the market, their styles feature separate breathable and water resistant areas for trainers and gym kit, with a top section dedicated to handbag essentials. 

KOVA Interiors

KOVA help businesses improve their image, premises and presence by designing and building office fit-out, office refurbishment and office furniture, allowing businesses to grow, flourish and achieve extraordinary results.

Location Cars Ltd

Location Cars are the longest standing car hire company in London. They provide a private hire corporate car, chauffeur, minicab and courier service to get you where you need to go.


Ohyo is an upmarket UK brand developing and promoting smart and adaptable products.   Ohyo recently teamed up with the London designer Felix Conran in 2015 and invented a multi-purpose bag that converts from tablet, messenger, backpack to grocery bag.  Ohyo also produces collapsabottles a reusable bottle that, when empty, will collapse to fit into a pocket or a handbag.

OI Engine Ltd

Ol Engine is an exciting new software platform that provides consulting support to help innovation managers engage their employees and customers in collaborative problem solving.

One Point Consulting

One Point Consulting help clients with digital transformation consulting, implementation and managed services


Quast is a consultancy, specialist in Quality Assurance and Software Testing. Their aim is to bring together the best pool of talent in QA and software testing, and make it available to their clients.


Spacechips helps suppliers of space-grade microchips understand future commercial and technical trends for the space industry and how such companies should align their product to maximise success. They also provide design consultancy services to manufactures of satellite sub-systems.

Splaat Media

Event photographer Splaat have experience in a number of areas such as drama, dance and music performance photography, sports tournament photography, prize giving and formal dinner photography.  They specialise in making photographs available for our customers quickly and in creative ways.


Tinderflint are a production agency producing content for various brands, agencies and charities. They work collaboratively with clients from the planning and development stage, through production and creation to delivery and distribution of content, translating brand intent into the right content for the right audience.

Turning Earth

Turning Earth provides open-access ceramics facilities, on a membership model, as well as entry-level classes. Their mission is to expand access to ceramics both for hobbyists and those who want to turn it into a viable career.


Überology combines improvement science with creative thinking and a collaborative approach to deliver highly effective solution-based programmes for healthcare organisations. 




This programme is fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the British Library