The first public libraries to support rural entrepreneurship in the North-east are ready to welcome local entrepreneurs and those with ideas for potential ventures.
Banff and Peterhead libraries are the first locations to launch Library Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA), a partnership between Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Live Life Aberdeenshire providing modern co-working spaces and resources to support business creation and drive economic growth.
LINA will provide local entrepreneurs with a collaborative environment and support to develop their ideas and grow their businesses, including mentorship and skills development opportunities delivered by RGU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG) through practical one-day workshops and an in-depth six week programme.
Chris Moule, Head of the RGU EIG, said: “Scotland’s rural economy is bursting with talent and potential. Aberdeenshire has a lot to offer in terms of start-ups and growing businesses and LINA recognises the importance of enabling these rural entrepreneurial communities to flourish and thrive.
“Building on the work of the university’s innovation agenda, LINA is providing a platform for entrepreneurs and innovators to come together to share ideas and create new opportunities. We are delivering collaborative facilities and entrepreneurial knowledge in the heart of rural communities, helping to support business creation and drive economic development in Aberdeenshire.
“We have had some really positive community engagement so far and are looking forward to welcoming the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators now that we have officially opened our first LINA locations.”
Throughout the first phase of LINA, RGU will deliver a series of standalone one-day workshops for budding entrepreneurs covering the entrepreneurial mindset, core business skills and knowledge. There will then be a more in-depth programme of six workshops, each exploring different aspects of setting up a business. Local entrepreneurs will also be able to benefit from expert entrepreneurial support through RGU’s Aberdeen Innovation Mentors Group (AIM).
Cllr Jim Gifford, Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, said: “Scottish philanthropist and entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie famously built libraries throughout the world to help educate the public. Now with the launch of LINA a twist is being applied as libraries in Aberdeenshire are welcoming businesses to use community space to collaborate and share ideas which will assist with boosting the economy. I am proud that Aberdeenshire Council is working in partnership with Robert Gordon University in delivering such a forward-thinking initiative. I for one will be interested in seeing how LINA progresses over the coming years.”
The LINA project is part funded by the LEADER Scottish Rural Development Programme, which aims to increase support to local rural community and business networks to build knowledge and skills, and encourage innovation and cooperation in order to tackle local development objectives.
Debbie McLeod is an entrepreneur from Maud who co-founded Bairns in 2018, a design-led childrenswear brand offering a unisex, customisable and multifunctional dungarees. After graduating with a masters from Glasgow School of Art, Debbie decided to pursue an entrepreneurial journey so that she could return to the area she grew up while continuing to work in the fashion and textiles industry. Being an entrepreneur in a rural community, Debbie welcomes the launch of LINA and the support it will bring to innovators and small businesses.
She said: “There are so many isolated creative businesses in rural north-east. LINA will help to connect entrepreneurs and innovators and develop a business community in rural areas. Having support and resources on your doorstep will inspire small businesses and give local entrepreneurs the confidence to develop their businesses further.”
Macduff and Fraserburgh libraries are the next locations for LINA and will launch in early 2020.
For more information on LINA and how to get involved visit www.rgu.ac.uk/LINA