Our History

How we launched

Andrew Ferguson at HIB

Back in 1982 the UK was in recession. Unemployment was on the rise in Harrow and local business representatives from public and private sectors felt that something should be done to encourage local people into self employment.

Driving the project was the manager of local Barclays Bank Max Ayres, and Director of Architecture and Planning at Harrow Council Gareth Pryce. With local support, they formed the Harrow Enterprise Agency.

The official launch was in the Council Chamber on 6th January 1983. Presiding over the event was Lord Bellwin, the minister for local government, and the event was televised by ITV.

Initially, things started small. The first executive director Richard Robinson from Barclays Bank, was a one-man operation based in the old Hamiltons brush factory in Rosslyn Crescent.

However, by 1989 the organisation had grown so much that we moved to a new location – Enterprise House (the former West Harrow Library on the Pinner Road). By 1990 we had also changed our name to Harrow in Business and had our first full time, salaried executive director, David Hill.

By 2004, we had grown from our one-man operation which helped 80 people to a team of about 70 staff and advisers which has helped over 25,000 people.

In fact, four of our original sponsors are still on the HiB board - Kodak, Barclays, North West London Chamber of Commerce and Harrow Council.

On 26th August 2004 Harrow in Business celebrated its 21st birthday, our official 21st celebration was held at the Shepherd Churchill Hall at Harrow School .

HIB Trevor Baylis

HiB’s guest speaker was well-known inventor Trevor Baylis OBE, who sprung to fame after inventing the clockwork radio in the 1990s. The product was turned down by all sorts of organisations who said the idea wouldn’t work, even though he had built a working prototype. “The Design Council said no,” he said, “but Nelson Mandela said yes!”.

He encouraged all entrepreneurs to have belief in themselves, especially when others couldn’t seen their vision.

Proper protection of ideas was also important, Trevor told guests. Sir Christopher Cockerill invented the Hovercraft but never saw any financial gain because the intellectual property wasn’t protected.

“We should teach invention as part of the National Curriculum. Kids nowadays do all sorts of stuff on computers that I don’t understand. And yet they are not taught anything at school about protecting those ideas.”

Proper protection and support was the idea behind a new company, Trevor Baylis Brands, which he had successfully floated the day before (see www.tbf.websfor.org/tbb).

Formed in September 2003, it has already signed up over 200 inventors. They pay a nominal £100 and then get help bypassing the legal and commercial problems faced when trying to sell inventions.

When it launched HiB was a one-man operation advising businesses from the back of an old brush factory. In 2011 the organisation calls on a team of 80 people and has advised over 75,000 people on starting or growing a business in or around the borough.

“Harrow is one of the top ten entrepreneurial hotspots in the UK and HiB is recognised as a quality operation, winning all sorts of awards for its service. Such is our profile that we recently hosted a senior manager from the DTi on work experience to get a feel for the cutting edge of business support provision!”