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News / November 7, 2012 / Creative England and the Library of Birmingham announce innovative new investment programme

In advance of its opening in September 2013, The Library of Birmingham and Creative England have joined forces to invest in digital solutions to help deliver what will be the UK’s first truly “21st century library”.

From today, creative sector SMEs are invited to apply for support through the Regional Growth Fund*.  Those wishing to apply need to submit their proposals for products and services which are focused on: developing audiences, opening up digital access to the Library’s services and collections, bridging the gap between digital channels and the physical building and exploring new business models.

The aim is to produce an exciting range of new multichannel services which are as much about the library’s online presence 24/7 as they are about a landmark cultural building.

For those SMEs which are successful, there will be financial support up to £100,000, and a great opportunity to showcase their digital wares in what is currently the largest cultural build in Europe.

Jim Farmery, Creative England’s Director of Business Development, said: “We’re very excited about this landmark project for a number of reasons.  It’s central to our remit to support and develop creative sector SMEs and help broker new business connections – with both the public and private sector – which will ultimately create jobs and growth.”

Brian Gambles, Project Director for the Library of Birmingham, said: “Working collaboratively with partners is integral to the ethos of the Library of Birmingham. Together with Creative England and regional creative digital companies, the Library will be able to push the boundaries of what a library can be in the 21st century, enabling citizens to engage with the libraries collections, services and each other in new and exciting ways. Ultimately this is about empowering people, transforming lives and developing a sustainable model for service delivery.”

With a clear focus on delivering first-class customer experience, projects may include:

  • Delivery of services and collections through multiple channels including mobile;
  • Gaming on mobile or in the library;
  • Digital experiences in the new Library of Birmingham;
  • Enabling and facilitating user contribution;
  • Data visualisation;
  • New business models including commercialisation of services/assets.

The funding package includes a matched 50 per cent investment from Creative England with flexible profit sharing options with the Library and Creative England. Individual projects to a total value of £100,000 will be considered.  The SME match element of the investment can be achieved in a number of ways including direct cash investment, in-kind work, sponsorship or complimentary external funding options.

The Library of Birmingham will coordinate funding options to ensure that the most innovative SMEs are able to benefit from this exciting opportunity.

Expressions of interest (maximum two pages) are invited by 20th November 2012 and should identify the area of the call which is of interest and relevant company expertise. To make a submission, please email Rebecca Cadwallader at the Library of Birmingham for further details rebecca.cadwallader@birmingham.gov.uk

NB: Projects will be no more than nine months in duration, and must be completed by end of August 2013. 

*The Regional Growth Fund is a £2.4bn fund operating across England from 2011 to 2015.  It supports projects and programmes that lever private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment.  Please see www.bis.gov.uk/rgf for more information.

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