New business centre in South Shields The Word will 'help boost borough's economy'
A South Shields library is branching out from books to business.
The Word, in the town’s Market Place, has been selected as one of six new outposts of the British Library’s Business and IP Centres (BIPCs) scheme.
And the brains behind the initiative hope it will help the borough’s aspiring entrepreneurs ‘turn an idea into a successful business’.
Joan Atkinson, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “This is going to be an invaluable resource for our business community, particularly residents looking to start-up their own company and entrepreneurs wanting to develop their business idea.
“Experts in residence will be on hand to offer specialist advice in areas including intellectual property, legal, financial, innovation and digital guidance.
“Businesses will also be able to access databases providing information about company statistics, market trends and consumer behaviours as well as finding funding opportunities to help develop or explore new markets.
“It’s fantastic news that we will have this free service with trained staff within the borough.
“It will make a key contribution in supporting businesses to emerge from the challenging coronavirus pandemic.”
The British Library (BL) set up its first BIPC outside London in Newcastle in 2011 and since then has supported more than 14,000 new or expanding firms, offering resources such as up-to-date market research and business databases, as well as workshops and one-to-one mentoring.
During the coronavirus pandemic its services have helped protect about 600 North East jobs.
A £13million government grant has helped the scheme expand even further, with £690,000 of this to back six new centres in the North East.
One of the firms to have benefited already from the scheme is South Shields-based Sincero, which specialises in finding funding solutions and opportunities for other companies.
Director Julie Skevington said: “I recently received help from BIPC Newcastle via the Citylife Business Support Programme.
“This was fully funded and gave me access to Ann English, who created a fantastic Visual Doodle as a marketing tool.
“This will help me with my online promotion and is an effective and engaging way of explaining what we offer to our customers and assisting them to secure the very best finance available.
“It’s wonderful to see the BIPC extending to local areas – it’s a great resources for local businesses.”
As well as the Word, officially known as the National Centre for the Written Word, the BIPC is adding five further outposts, in addition to its main base at Newcastle City Library.
Sunderland’s historic Elephant Tea Rooms is also set to host one of the centres, with more planned for North Shields, Berwick, Morpeth and Hexham.
The expansion is due to take the scheme’s tally from 14 across the country, to more than 100.
Liz Jolly, the BL’s chief librarian, said: “At their heart, libraries are trusted spaces with professional staff who have a mission to connect people with information.
“BIPC Network harnesses the power of libraries, bringing in expertise from the local community to help people from all walks of life turn an idea into a successful business.”