Ipswich Library launches new Enterprise and Innovation Hub

- By James Powell

The new space has been named The Carnegie Room to mark the library’s connection with entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie and some of the funding to build the library in 1924 was donated by the UK Carnegie Trust.

The hub was launched at an event attended by Brian Ashley, Head of Libraries at Arts Council England, Suffolk County Councillor Sarah Stamp, Portfolio Holder for Communities; plus guests from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Enterprise Hub, New Anglia Growth Hub, Suffolk Libraries Board and Friends of Ipswich Library.

Suffolk Libraries has developed the Enterprise + Innovation Hub as a dedicated centre supporting local entrepreneurs, start-ups, business owners and creative minds.

Located on the recently adapted second floor of the library, the hub provides three main services: hireable meeting space, business advice and information, and a communal ‘MakerSpace’ (named ‘The Lab’) which contains 3D printers, computer coding kits and professional sewing machines.

The hub has been developed in partnership with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, New Anglia Growth Hub, Easter Enterprise Hub, Ipswich Borough Council and University Campus Suffolk.

Alison Wheeler, General Manager at Suffolk Libraries said “We’re very excited to be launching this new facility in the library.  It’s purposely designed to show how a library space reinvents itself continuously, stays free and accessible, using local talent and cutting edge technology to help people make their way in life. We’re very pleased to name it the Carnegie Room as Andrew Carnegie was a great entrepreneur and his trust supported the creation of Ipswich Library.”

John Dugmore, Chief Executive of Suffolk Chamber said: “The Chamber is delighted to support Ipswich Library’s new Enterprise and Innovation Hub, giving aspiring entrepreneurs and local business owners access to versatile meeting space and networking opportunities.”

John Stenhouse, New Anglia Growth Hub Manager said: “It is so important that business owners have access to free face-to-face support from our Business Growth Advisers and these new facilities create the perfect environment for quiet retreat to explore opportunities.”

Digby Chacksfield, CEO of the Eastern Enterprise Hub, said: “We are pleased to be involved with the Innovation Hub at the library. This represents a connection into the wider Ipswich community - there is so much entrepreneurial talent that can be nurtured."

The new environment has been created to cater for the diverse needs of businesses, organisations and individuals. Larger businesses may be looking for neutral locations to meet with clients, smaller businesses and start-ups may not have their own professional premises and require economical and central meeting space for group work and interviews.

The hub aims to provide somewhere to suit all these needs with three meeting rooms, a presentation suite, a hot-desk space, a large breakout area and a dedicated kitchen.  Suffolk Libraries will also be working with local schools and academies to explore the potential benefits the space could provide for their students.


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