Award-winning Liverpool Library plays a key role in Enterprise Hub success

Liverpool city region’s Enterprise Hub has offered assistance to more than 5,000 people so far and Liverpool’s Central Library has made a major contribution to the initiative. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool Central Library
Richard Horrocks, a specialist officer at Liverpool Central Library


Liverpool’s Central Library and the city’s community libraries are playing a key role in inspiring a new generation of Mersey entrepreneurs. And, thanks to the support of the local business community, the Central Library has been named The Booksellers Library of the Year.

Through their work as a strategic partner with the Liverpool city region’s Enterprise Hub, the libraries are offering a dynamic demonstration of why they continue to be be an essential resource in the 21st century.

Enterprise Hub was launched in December 2015 as a single-door access point to advise and support people who had started, or had ambitions to start, their own business. To date the project has offered assistance to more than 5,000 people.

Start-up support

The libraries’ role within the project has been to engage more potential entrepreneurs who will need the support of the programme to assess their business ideas, access finance and understand the practicalities of business start-up. 

As part of this they offer local people access to their Business and IP Centre where there are significant market research resources, they have organised a number of business clinics to support small businesses and regularly work with Enterprise Hub to put on engagement events.

Major factor

Richard Horrocks, a specialist officer at Liverpool Central Library in William Brown Street, said the accessibility and visibility offered by the library has been a major factor in the success of the Enterprise Hub.

“In some cases people have come into the library for other reasons and had not, until that point, looked at starting their own businesses – they had seen what we were offering and that had inspired them to speak to one of our advisors,” said Richard.

“That visibility has been such an important aspect of our role within the Enterprise Hub structure and it shows once again that libraries are now about so much more than just books.”

Regular events

Recent events at the library included Makefest in June which saw people with design and ‘maker’ skills come into the library to showcase their work.

There is also now a push to take the Enterprise Hub work into the wider community by holding events at local libraries across the city. At Toxteth Library in May an Inspiring Entrepreneurs event saw successful Mama Design founder Keira O’Mara and Baltic Creative CIC managing director, Mark Lawler, deliver a free workshop.

One of the most popular regular workshops at Central Library has been the weekly sessions run by ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ Gary Millar. He is Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor and is also a successful entrepreneur in his own right.

Richard added: “Despite all the other responsibilities Gary has he has remained committed to the Enterprise Hub and to his weekly workshops. He has a team of around 10 volunteer mentors who join him at the sessions and in total there are 20 mentors he can draw upon.

“The sessions have proved to be really popular and Gary never fails to inject a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm into the project.”

Liverpool Central Library
Liverpool Central Library has been named The Booksellers Library of the Year


National project

Richard also talked about a national project the library was involved in with the British Library to encourage more entrepreneurship, with events held in conjunction with other libraries across the UK – all work that supports its role in the Enterprise Hub.

“Taking part in that project really gives our work in this area a fresh impetus,” he said.

Just one of the library’s success stories is Victoria Toby Lade, whose venture, Edes Educational Centre, is going from strength to strength.

After working in the education sector for a number of years, Victoria came across the Enterprise Hub through the library and was referred to another hub strategic partner, The Woman’s Organisation, for advice and support.

She explained her business: “The Edes Educational Centre allows children of a primary and secondary school age the opportunity to enjoy the facilities of a supplementary educational services.”

It runs small group sessions in Maths and English during term time as well as school holidays and covers the Key Stages 1 through to 4 as well as also teaching GCSE Maths and English.

Enterprise skills

The Enterprise Hub is currently funded until November 2018 to support residents of Sefton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Wirral and Halton to asses their enterprising ideas and get help to build enterprise skills.

Over that period the programme will offer initial support to more than 6,000 people who are considering setting up a business with the aim of supporting more than 1,200 businesses to proceed to start.

More than 5,100 people from across the city region have now received initial support (completed registration and received at least three hours of advice or training) and more than 850 businesses have started as a result – So the project is well on target to deliver the intended outcomes.

Anyone wanting to find out more about the Enterprise Hub programme can contact the Enterprise Hub team via 0151-706 8113, or email

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