RGU to transform public libraries into testbeds for rural entrepreneurship


Thursday 04 July 2019

Chris Moule, Proj John Harper and Councillor Jim Gifford
Libraries across Aberdeenshire are to be transformed into centres to support rural entrepreneurship and drive local economic growth.

The Library Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA) has been developed in partnership between Aberdeenshire Council and RGU to create modern public library spaces with networks of resource for local entrepreneurs and small and micro businesses.

The initiative will combine creative co-working spaces with expert library facilities and RGU’s entrepreneurship and innovation resources, providing the rural community of innovators and entrepreneurs with a collaborative environment to develop their businesses while accessing mentorship, advice, workshops and information.

Chris Moule, Head of the RGU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, said: “We see most of the new co-working spaces opening in city centres and it is important that we recognise and develop vibrant entrepreneurial communities and small businesses in the rural regions to support local economic growth.

“Libraries provide the perfect location. They are often focal points where knowledge is captured and shared, and they have meeting rooms, internet access, and community members in one place. We are delighted to be partnering with Aberdeenshire Council on LINA as part of RGU’s innovation agenda to support the changing world of work and the increasing importance of the ‘gig’ economy and small business, particularly outside of major cities.”

Banff and Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead have been identified as initial locations for LINA, which is designed to facilitate the rural community’s adoption of the modern library space for the development of business ideas, collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship to support economic development. The network will officially launch with the opening of the first space at the Banff Library in autumn 2019.

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.

Cllr Jim Gifford, Leader of Aberdeenshire Council and Business Services Committee chair, said: “We are delighted to see this exciting and innovative project come to fruition on the back of strengthening relationships and a lot of hard work with RGU.  The activities will complement the Council’s wider regeneration efforts in the four towns and we look forward to seeing the positive economic and social benefits that will be delivered through this new partnership approach.”

Cllr Anne Stirling, Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee chair, said: “One of the aims of Live Life Aberdeenshire, the Council’s new and innovative way of delivering high quality sports and culture services that fulfill the aspirations of our communities, is to build closer relationships with the business community so that they can support culture and sporting events throughout Aberdeenshire. This initiative fits in perfectly with this aspiration. I look forward to seeing it flourish and hopefully inspire other creative spaces being used in innovative ways.”

The development and delivery of LINA co-working spaces will be supported by RGU, which will draw on its success in embedding entrepreneurship across the university through a number of initiatives. The long-term objective is to stimulate economic growth by supporting freelancers, ‘gig economy’ pioneers, inventors, problem solvers, entrepreneurs, micro- and small-businesses from across Aberdeenshire, leading to the creation of new businesses and jobs.

RGU’s Aberdeen Innovation Mentors (A.I.M) group will provide additional expert entrepreneurial support, while new mentors within these locations will be actively added. Online and digital assets from RGU will also be leveraged to provide additional guidance and support for the varied users of the LINA locations.

The university is currently recruiting Project Coordinators for LINA and is interested in hearing from individuals, mentors and organisations that want to be a part of supporting this initiative. For information about the posts or about volunteering as a mentor or for other information, please contact innovation@rgu.ac.uk quoting “LINA”.