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

24 November 2016

A Global Entrepreneurship Week thank-you. You made our week!

Thank you to all who attended an amazing week of events making Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 such a great success.

We look back on the British Library’s Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 campaign, kindly supported by Microsoft.


For the Business & IP Centre team, 2016 has been a year of celebration. This is the 10th year that we’ve been helping people from all walks of life to start, protect and grow successful businesses. Since launching in 2006, we’ve been able to connect with bigger and broader audiences each year, and now with an expanding network of Business & IP Centres across the country it’s never been easier to get the help you need to take your business idea to the next stage.

We started the week bright and early on Monday morning, by hosting the official launch of the UK Global Entrepreneurship Week campaign and went on to deliver a jam-packed week of inspiration, insider tips, networking and knowledge-sharing. Here are just some of the highlights:


 Question Time for Entrepreneurs

If you’ve got questions, then we’ve got the answers! Our popular Question Time for Entrepreneurs event brought together some of the UK’s brightest business brains including Edwina Dunn, co-founder of DunnHumby, Simon Devonshire OBE, founder of Wayra and Government’s Entrepreneur in Residence, as well as Helen Pattison, co-founder of Montezuma's chocolates and Lesley Batchelor from the Institute of Export. Our panel discussed their own business journeys and debated a range of topical issues from Brexit to branding, with plenty of opportunities for our audience to ask questions.


Our top tip from Question Time comes from Simon Devonshire who advised business owners to focus on identifying the ‘most powerful action’ (or MPA) in their business - in other words, to pinpoint the one thing they can do to achieve the biggest impact and then do it.

You can also view previous Inspiring Entrepreneurs on our YouTube channel BIPC TV

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: The White Company and Charles Tyrwhitt

Our entrepreneurial ‘Mr & Mrs’ Chrissie Rucker, founder of the White Company and Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt shirts, have both built up formidable retail empires,  with each successfully making the transition from mail order to multichannel (online and bricks and mortar). At this ‘fireside chat,’ both Chrissie and Nick spoke candidly about knowing how they made some mistakes along the way but managed to bounce back.  They also gave very practical advice on how to remain focused and stick to your vision and to always put yourself in the shoes of the customer. One of the main insights that Chrissie gave about building your business was:

“Having a business is a gift. Surround yourself with a brilliant people who share your passion and are right for the different stages of your business.”


Your Life, Your Business

Business and Life Coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru presented his workshop ‘Your Life, Your Business.’ Running a small business will increase the demands on your own time and lifestyle. Rasheed’s workshop helps you to get the balance right, while at the same time helping to set realistic goals for you and the business.  

Rasheed likens being an entrepreneur to being an athlete, and he advises business owners to“study your field, master your craft, gather your team, know your competitors, win and keep supporters, learn from trials and errors and keep your eye on your goal.”

If you missed last week’s workshop, Rasheed will be delivering this on the 12 December

The Idler Academy:  Killer business ideas


Everyone at the Business & IP Centre is passionate about supporting new businesses to succeed and grow.  Therefore we were delighted to be joined by twin brothers Gary and Alan Keery, founders of the Cereal Killer Cafe, which is surely one of the most talked-about start-ups in recent years. Since launching in 2014, the retro-inspired Cereal Killer Café has truly captured the public imagination and the Keery brothers have experienced both the best and worst of being in the media spotlight.  At this frank and entertaining event, moderated by Tom Hodgkinson of The Idler magazine, the boys shared the story of how their passion for cereal inspired a killer business idea.  The brothers implored aspiring entrepreneurs to stay true to their convictions, not to listen to the naysayers and to fiercely protect their brand.  They also stressed that new businesses need to be willing to learn skills quickly where necessary – something that the Business & IP Centre’s courses and workshops across a variety of business topics can help you with. 


Last but not least, if you’re setting up office, we are delighted that Microsoft, our Global Entrepreneurship Partner, is offering our users a special discount on their Office 365 product. Find out more.

21 November 2016

Co-working spaces - the ideal place to do business

Co-working has grown as a flexible and collaborative working space and environment for start-ups, freelancers and even large businesses. And it is predicted that this will be the norm for the next generation of entrepreneurs, workers and the future of how we work and grow businesses.   

Home-office-336378_960_720As well as being good for  all types of growing and mature businesses co-working hubs are also a viable business model in itself for entrepreneurs and local councils. Revenue comes from memberships or pay-as-you-go fees. Membership terms and conditions can be flexible, such as the number of days or months you buy.

Hubs can host individual working spaces, hot-desking, meeting rooms, cafes, business incubators, informal libraries, and artist galleries. As well as leisure activities such as table football or table tennis spaces. There are often networking and training events too. This article in The Guardian newspaper covers some of the main players and some key financials showing the size of the industry, ‘Where start-up lead, corporates follow – why co-working is the future?’.

Some commentators have compared the growth in co-working spaces to the rise in coffee houses of the 17th and 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment. This also heralded a time where ideas became easier to exchange, travel and adopt. Being an entrepreneur is often a lonely experience, especially at the start. But in these new spaces, start-ups have an opportunity to meet, network, and collaborate with complimentary and like-minded businesses. It is easier for open innovation to happen in this ecosystem, and it is one of the reasons tech developers are so keen to set up in this environment.       


Example of an early coffee house in London

Co-Work Hub is a flexible workspace company that is currently on our Innovating for Growth programme.  They offer hot-desking, quality offices or virtual office facilities, including a gym and breakout areas. Another example is The Workary, who has set up community working spaces in public libraries. We frequently get asked if the Business & IP Centre meeting rooms are for hire and our Orange Room is now available for hire for appropriate business meetings. Interestingly, Vrumi is an app where you can offer or look for homes for non-traditional spaces for flexible working.  It is well documented that the future of workspaces is changing and this is an example of the possibilities and opportunities.

 Co-Work Hub’s TEDx video

We do have a small area in our networking area in the Centre that can be used for informal working for small groups of people. Occasionally we use this space for our own events and therefore it is not available, so please check in advance. You can also use the public areas on the British Library for informal meetings with a difference. There is an online directory on CoWorking London and we also have a list of office spaces on our Business & IP Centre Wiki.


Business & IP Centre  networking area

Some local councils have made a concerted effort to help co-working spaces develop.  Luckily, in my neighbourhood in London, there is a new business hub called Central Parade near a busy high street and market.  It is not only a place for flexible co-working, but businesses can also apply for a shop space on a six months basis to test opportunities in the local market.

I have been in touch with bridal wear business Pour L’Amour, who has said that there were several benefits for using the space. Business owner Paula explained the advantages to me; “short let subsidised shop to test the water going forwards; launching a business in this location I would have not been able to afforded a prime site like this otherwise; and great not to have to worry about the everyday running of the space such as utilities, as everything is managed”. There have also been direct results in gaining new customers with this exposure to a vibrant local community.

Paula Moore

Paula Moore at Pour L’Amour at Central Parade London

Co-working is happening in quite a few countries across the globe too with definite increases in spaces in Western Countries as well as emerging markets such as India, Kenya, Panama, and Japan etc.  Not only is it changing where we work, it is changing how we work, who we work with and how our businesses develop. There are many reasons to give it a try!   

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre


Introducing the European exchange programme for new entrepreneurs


Erasmus for Y Entrepre

The Business & IP Centre in London has a wealth of information on European markets, economic and trading conditions, and best practice to help your business.

Now we are helping entrepreneurs benefit from the experience of people working in European countries through the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur Programme. This organises exchanges between new and aspiring entrepreneurs (of any age) and experienced host businesses.

If you are a new entrepreneur you will benefit from the experience of working for up to six months in another European country with a grant paid by the European Commission. There are also benefits to a host businesses as they will bring in new skills, experience and to learn more about another market.  

The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur Programme has been running for a number of years now. But the Business & IP Centre has recently become much more directly involved. We are part of a consortium called Columbus 8 which includes partners from: Italy, Finland, France, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary. 

Columbus 8

Columbus 8 partners

Benefits for new entrepreneurs

As a new entrepreneur, you will benefit from on-the-job training in a small or medium-sized enterprise elsewhere in the Participating Countries. This will help in the successful start of your business or strengthen your new enterprise. You can also benefit from access to new markets, international cooperation and potential possibilities for collaboration with business partners abroad.

Benefits for host entrepreneurs

As a host entrepreneur, you can benefit from fresh ideas from a motivated new entrepreneur in your business area. They may have specialised skills or knowledge which could complement yours. Most host entrepreneurs enjoyed the experience so much that they decide to host other new entrepreneurs afterwards.

It is a collaboration where both of you can discover new European markets or, different ways of doing business. In the longer-term, you will benefit from wide networking opportunities and possibly continue your collaboration as long-term business partners.


If you want to find out more please contact Nigel Spencer or