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Information resources for media start-ups

This list was put together as a resource for delegates at the New Ways to Make Journalism Pay conference in January 2010. It is by no means complete, it does not include the Republic of Ireland, and some of it may be out of date or just plain wrong. A listing should not be taken as a recommendation.

This is the UK government's free business and support service and your obvious first stop if you're thinking of starting up a journalistic enterprise. There's a "starting up" section on the website, and the homepage has a "local business link" drop-down menu along the top to help you find your local Business Link service. This links to listings of numerous "Local Events" - networking events, training days, and info sessions on "finance and grants".

The embedded acronym stands for "Intellectual Property". The most relevant resources at the BL's Business and IP Centre in London are the extensive searchable market research databases to which it gives you access. You can do your own market research - into potential clients and competition and into the grants and funding available, and the staff will give guidance on how to go about doing your market research. Or if you haven't got the time, they will do the market research for you - expect to pay between £200 and £500 for a market research package that includes all of the above.

Three-year membership of the British Library is yours on production of your NUJ card and proof of address. Some services are accessible online without having to go to the Library in person.

While Business Link is the best place to go for information about regional development agency funding, some regional development agencies have their own initiatives alongside their local Business Link. London, for example, has its own Business London programme, with intensive help and support on start-ups.

There's a list of regional development agencies in England here. In Scotland, the equivalent is Scottish Enterprise Scottish Enterprise.Welsh Assembly Government support for businesses is at www.business-support-wales.gov.uk.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Northern Ireland (DETI) also has a business support service.

This provides training and opportunities to enable people to use their creative abilities for social benefit. It currently has branches operating in Aston, Cornwall, Devon, East Midlands, Fife, Ireland, Liverpool, London, Hampshire, and Yorkshire, and it's developing centres in the West Midlands, Cumbria, North East England and East of England. SSE has local networks that social enterprises can join. A look at their local networks shows that some of the people in it would be useful partners for media start-ups - printers, accountants, etc.

SSE's website seeks to ensure that "fees present no barrier to participation". Places on their programme are generally "funded by grants or bursaries, or students are helped to generate sufficient income to meet their expenses and to contribute to the cost of the programme." These are generally a year long and work on the basis of "action learning" - learning by doing. They want applicants to ring their local SSE for a chat in the first instance.

Co-ops UK's website has a five-step guide to starting a cooperative, and more detailed PDF guide. The site also has guides to the various different legal structures under which you can set up your co-op. Their legal team will answer queries about co-op start-ups. Enterprise can become a member of Co-ops UK for a fee, which depends on their turnover, starting at £65. Benefits include legal services and accountancy services.

Co-ops UK's site also has a listing of local cooperative development bodies, usually known as Cooperative Development Agencies (CDAs). In London, for example, the cooperative development body is Social Enterprise London, and the London boroughs of Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and Hackney have their own CDAs. There's a full list of CDAs here.

Update (Feburary 2010):

David Boyle, speaking at the February 2010 London Freelance Branch meeting, said that the Co-operative group (the group that includes the Cooperative Bank) have a fund that includes £5 million-worth of business advice, and they're looking for people to advise through this scheme. The government's Industrial Common Ownership Finance Fund offers grants of £50,000 to start-up co-ops, and long-term loans of twice that amount.

Last modified: 26 Feb 2010 - © 2010 contributors
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