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The British Library’s new intellectual property and business centre was officially opened to the public last night at an event attended by over 500 guests.

Among those present were top entrepreneurs Doug Richard of Dragons’ Den fame, bookstore mogul Tim Waterstone and Tony Lit of Sunrise Radio.

The entrepreneurs took part in a Q&A session about setting up a business before attending the grand opening of the centre, formally announced by Sir Digby Jones of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Doug Richard told attendees he thought the centre offered a great opportunity for business start-ups and wished he had made better use of patent rights in the past.

"If you don’t go through that trawl of finding out about patents and protecting your ideas, you will come to regret it," Richard said. "I have never been able to protect an idea in 20 years. I have since found out that I probably could have done so. I would be much better off today if I had been able to protect some of my ideas."

The new centre will offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to investigate intellectual property rights and develop business-planning strategies via a vast network of free information.

The centre was funded by a £1m injection from the London Development Agency (LDA).

Manny Lewis, of the LDA, said: "The Business and IP Centre project is a key component of the LDA's strategy of delivering innovation support to SMEs.

"Our investment has acted as a catalyst to leverage the world-class resources of the British Library, which will help to maximise the productivity and innovation potential of London's enterprises by harnessing their knowledge assets."

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