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

11 September 2014

Healthcare Industry Market Research in the Business & IP Centre

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With all of the great market research databases available in the Business & IP Centre there is a danger that the reports we have in printed format might get overlooked. This would be a mistake because there are some really useful publications to be found on the shelves.

If you are researching the healthcare industry, you may be interested to learn that we have quite a few reports from two of the major healthcare industry analysts, Laing Buisson and Espicom.

Laing Buisson is the UK’s foremost provider of market intelligence on the private healthcare sector.  They also cover the community care and childcare sectors.

Laing Buisson logo

Among the reports you can find in the Centre is Laing’s Healthcare Market Review, which is widely regarded in the industry as the definitive analysis of the independent healthcare sector in the UK.  This is an invaluable reference for decision makers in both the private and public sectors.  We currently have the 2013/2014 edition in the Business & IP Centre at shelf reference (B)MKT 362.102541 Business.

Other recently published reports in the collection include: Children’s Nurseries 2013 – (B)MKT 338.47362712094105 Business; Health Cover UK Market Report 2013 – (B)MKT 338.473683820094105 Business; and Domiciliary Care 2013 – (B)MKT 338.47362140808460941 Business.

You can find full details of all the Laing Buisson reports we hold by entering the search terms (B)MKT Laing into our online catalogue.

Another highly respected analyst in the healthcare industry is Espicom.  Like Laing Buisson, Espicom is a UK-based publisher.  Their reports cover a wide range of healthcare related subjects such as the developments in the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular drugs, drug delivery methods, pharmaceutical generics, medical imaging, orthopaedics, cardiovascular devices, in vitro diagnostics and diabetes.  They also publish country specific reports.

Espicom logo

We have over 150 Espicom reports in the Business & IP Centre.  Recently published titles include: Physician-based Point-of-care Diagnostics: Products, Players and Outlook to 2017 - (B)MKT 338.47616075 Business; Advances in Molecular Imaging 2013: a Market Coming of Age - (B)MKT 338.47681761 Business; and the regional volumes of the Medical Device Intelligence Report 2013 - (B)MKT 338.4761020943 Business.

You can find a full list of all of the Espicom reports held in the Business & IP Centre on our catalogue. Enter the search terms (B)MKT Espicom.

Michael Pattinson on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

10 September 2014

New database in the Business & IP Centre: Local Data Online

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Adding to the extensive list of databases that we currently have, we have also now introduced a new database at the Business & IP Centre: Local Data Online (LDO).

LDO complements our existing market research and company databases by providing insights into the ever-changing UK retail and leisure landscape, allowing users to instantly understand the health and make-up of high streets, retail parks and shopping centres. Field researchers from the company spend over 2,000 hours a week in the field collecting and aggregating information for the database.

The database’s functionality allows you to search and extract information in a number of helpful ways. You can examine the retail make-up of a particular location – for instance a city, town or region – with the results displayed on a map. Retail units are then broken down by industry classification, so users would be able to pinpoint, for instance, the number of coffee shops in a certain area - and see what percentage of the whole this number represents.

They can also download location summaries, and lists of companies along with addresses and contact details.  Key statistics include the number of vacant units, opening and closure rates, and the mix of independent and chain businesses.

Local Data Company blog image 1

A second method of searching is by industry classification. Type in your industry sector – for instance ‘cafés & fast food’ - and your region, and the database will show you the top 20 companies in this industry/area, the growth or decline rates by units or net change, and distribution between high street, shopping centres, retail parks, and other.  

Finally, you can choose to look at the ‘retailer overview’, which gives location coverage details for specific companies, and percentage change over the last year. This feature allows you to compare up to 5 companies, so you could examine the retail presence across the country for Costa Coffee versus Starbucks, for example.

  Local Data Company blog image 2

Local Data Online is useful for a number of reasons – to examine geographical trends, research local opportunities or competition, assess the suitability of a particular location for your business, or to create marketing lists. For instance, an entrepreneur opening a new coffee shop may wish to examine the make-up of an area to see if there are already lots of similar businesses already operating, or look at the mix of independents and chains to see how their business would fit in.

They could also look at the number of vacant units and openings and closures to examine the general retail health of the area. Suppliers of coffee beans, on the other hand, may wish to use the map functions to create a list of coffee shops in their locality that they could then market their product to. Or, if they want to research a particular B2B customer, the retailer profile would illustrate the company’s coverage across the country and the growth/decline rates of their outlets.

To access Local Data Online you need to visit the Business & IP Centre reading room. Find out more

Sally Jennings on behalf of Business & IP Centre 

09 September 2014

Using Netmums to find local business listings

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Netmums-logo-1339067868Recently I found myself talking to a reader who was intending to set up a small business in Orpington. One of the questions she asked me was: How can I do some basic market research? Well, there are plenty of sources that can give an overview of how the market in her particular business is doing in the UK as a whole, but she was chiefly interested in her local area.

One obvious question she needed to research was: What similar businesses are already operating in my area? Looking in the Yellow Pages  would be helpful, but I found another source that slightly surprised me, but nonetheless I can highly recommend: Netmums. (Not to be confused with Mumsnet, which is similar, but different.)

Founded in 2000, Netmums is the UK's fastest-growing online parenting organisation with over 1.7 million members and 8 million unique users each month. It is a family of local sites that cover the UK, each site offering information to mothers on everything from where to find playgroups and how to eat healthily to where to meet other mothers.  

Among many other things, Netmums gives local listings of small businesses that they could find useful  – and that means a very broad range of businesses, indeed.

Under four broad headings:  
1.    Household Help
2.    Other Local Services
3.    Women and Holistic
4.    Business Help

It has some three dozen categories, ranging all the way from Garden Services to Website Design and PC Repairs, by way of Hair, Nails, Beauty and Tanning, Food Banks, Driving Instructors, and much more.

What I particularly like is how it lists businesses not only in the town I ask for (when I typed in Orpington, it suggested Bromley to me, so I went with that), but also ranged further afield into neighbouring towns, within I estimated about 20 minutes’ driving time. This is just the sort of information that a hopeful start-up will need: if I want to start up in business as, say, a kitchen-fitter in Harpenden, I will want to know what other kitchen- fitters are already operating in nearby towns such as Luton or Welwyn Garden City – and Netmums will give me a list.

However, it may be fair to say that Netmums is not the clearest of websites to navigate.


Here are quick instructions on how to get to the local business listings:

  • Starting at the home page, click on Choose Location (at the top of the page), which leads you to a page with an interactive map and a Search box – you can use either.
  • If you type the name of your town in the Search-box, it gives you the regions that this name maps onto.
  • Click on one, and you will be given the options Join (wherever) or Log In as a guest.
  • Once you have chosen one of these, you get to your region’s local page. Now click on Local Services – a rather inconspicuous link near the top of the page, towards the right-hand side.

I don’t know how many hard-pressed parents find this slightly hidden corner of the Netmums site, but for a would-be start-up it is well worth exploring.

Rupert Lee on behalf of the Business & IP Centre