BIPC Norfolk offers free support to start-ups and small businesses

Entrance to the Business & IP Centre at Norwich Millenium Library in Norfolk

The Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Norfolk, run by Norfolk County Council’s Library & Information Service, is giving the county’s business community a much-needed boost. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

The Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Norfolk, run by Norfolk County Council’s Library & Information Service, is giving the county’s business community a much-needed boost.

At a particularly challenging time for businesses, your local library isn’t necessarily the first place you’d think of to go for support – but that’s exactly what BIPC Norfolk can offer start-ups and small businesses, with most services being free of charge.

BIPC Norfolk is one of 15 regional centres in the British Library’s BIPC Network. Set up initially as the business library, it partnered with the British Library in 2014, and in 2017 became a member of the national network of Patent Libraries (PATLIB), enabling the centre to offer intellectual property (IP) advice.

A survey carried out by the British Library indicated that using the BIPC Network gives businesses a better than average chance of success; on average, of those who had used a BIPC, only one in ten had failed after year three, compared with just under four in ten across the UK.

The main BIPC Norfolk centre is housed on the second floor of the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library with hubs in King’s Lynn, Thetford and Great Yarmouth libraries – and plans for opening three more hubs in the county this year.

Each site has resources to enable you to research initial ideas, reach new customers, consider and research competitors and suppliers, and check whether your IP – including copyright, trademarks, designs and patents – is protected. Expert staff are on hand to guide you to the resources you need, and the sites offer space to work, with free access to PCs and the internet.

Online, from the comfort of your home or office, you can also search for business books on the library catalogue, and reserve items to collect at your nearest branch or download a wide range of business eBooks.

BIPC Norfolk also provides access to a great selection of free online subscriptions with up-to date-business information. These include COBRA (Complete Business Reference Advisor), IBISWorld (expert industry market research and FAME (Financial Analysis Made Easy).

Librarian next to bookshelves in inner city library

Julie Cleminson at BIPC Norfolk, which is housed in the Millenium Library in Norwich - Credit: Norfolk County Council

While libraries have been closed due to the pandemic, BIPC Norfolk has enhanced its online offering to ensure it continues to support businesses in the county.

Julie Cleminson, BIPC Coordinator based at the Millennium Library, explains how they have adapted to the situation: “Prior to the pandemic, we ran face-to-face one-to-one advice sessions, workshops and networking sessions, and for the time being, these have all moved online.

“We hope that face-to-face sessions can resume once more restrictions are lifted but we’ll definitely continue to offer some sessions online. They’ve worked really well and mean that people don’t have to factor in travelling time in order to attend.”

Often people focus on the big businesses as being the cornerstones of the UK economy, but small businesses, which may only generate modest sums, also have a key role in boosting productivity.

Although Covid-19 has triggered the economic challenges which have sadly resulted in many job losses, people are now much more open to the idea of self-employment – something BIPC Norfolk can help with.

Find out how BIPC Norfolk can help you start or grow a business at www.norfolk.gov.uk/bipcnorfolk or email bipcnorfolk@norfolk.gov.uk 


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Next week we look at what it takes to start your own business and how BIPC Norfolk can  support you.

Reset and restart your business
It’s a difficult time for small businesses so BIPC Norfolk has developed a free online programme of business support, which includes 1-to-1 support sessions, workshops and networking events delivered in partnership with MENTA. Reset. Restart is open to all business owners, especially those in the first years of trading.

During the two-hour online 1-to-1 you will review your overall business proposition and discuss how it could be rethought, especially in light of Covid-19.

The online workshops cover: generating new business ideas, digital marketing tools and strategies, building customer relationships, re-adjusting costs, and updating business plans – and you can choose from the five workshops or book on to the whole series.

There are also online networking events, which will give you the chance to hear from guest speakers and other Norfolk businesses.

Find out more and book at www.norfolk.gov.uk/reset-restart

Find out more
You can also find out more about Business & IP Centre Norfolk by visiting the website at norfolk.gov.uk/bipcnorfolk, bipcnorfolk.eventbrite.com or by emailing bipcnorfolk@norfolk.gov.uk

BIPC Norfolk is on social media, too. Find them on Facebook @BIPCNorfolk, Twitter @BIPCNorfolk and LinkedIn @Business & IP Centre Norfolk


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