Research brief: The Hive support programme for co-ops – deadline 11 April

Hello. I may have already contacted some of you directly via detail on the CoTech website, but we’ve extended the deadline for submitting proposals for this work:

I work in the Marketing and Communications team at Co-operatives UK. We are commissioning a piece of research into one of our core support programmes – The Hive. This programme has supported more than 1000 new and existing co-ops through direct business support, training or peer mentoring since it was launched in 2016 – thanks to funding from The Co-operative Bank since 2016.

We are looking for agencies who would be interested in submitting a proposal/quotation for the brief here:
The brief outlines work required to support and deliver a research project to assess our current Hive programme. Specifically –

  • An online survey to groups who have applied to The Hive and our Hive providers (who give direct business support to successful applicants)
  • Interviews (phone or video) with a number* of survey participants who agree to having a follow-up call (*budget-depending; participants would be representative of The Hive’s key users and stakeholders)
  • Taking learnings from the survey, interviews into account – alongside other data we can share that’s been collected as part of the delivery of The Hive – to prepare a report with findings and recommendations which will help to inform our proposals for any changes to the current programme.

The deadline for receiving proposals has been extended to 8AM, Monday 11 April. Please also include relevant examples of work you have undertaken. I am happy to discuss the proposal with anyone – email me on

If this timescale is too short, we apologise but please do let me know if you would like to be considered for future research opportunities. If this work isn’t appropriate for your co-operative, please let me know. I will update our records so we can approach you to quote for appropriate work in future.

Best wishes
Leila /

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Hi @leila.osullivan this is a really interesting brief, and of course Principle Six would be more than glad to provide testimony and evidence to the researcher(s). One thing, in the heading ‘Why only 40% of groups accessing support are not going onto form a co-op’, I’m guessing that ‘not’ is superfluous, so do you mean 60% of groups are not forming co-ops?

Without wanting to preempt the findings, I’d say 90% of the startup or conversion clients I’ve worked with through The Hive do in fact form co-ops - but that ‘a long time’ (i.e. more than 12 months) is quite normal if the group isn’t literally at the point of being ready to start trading. Also, it might be useful to further define ‘co-op’ for the purposes of the research. A co-op isn’t necessarily an incorporated body (although most groups do eventually incorporate, for practical reasons); and it isn’t a Community Benefit Society, although The Hive does support bencoms as well as co-ops.

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Hi Sion

We will definitely be in touch with yourself and other CDBs who have been delivering The Hive support for the last six years – so you are absolutely a target group for this research.

I think that ‘only 40% are not’ is a typo – apologies. And your response is absolutely the insight we need. E.g. Do we need a longer term ‘after care’ package once the initial support has been given? And in what form is this given?

That figure, I’m almost certain, will include bencoms. Obviously a lot of these nuances will need to be understood by the agency undertaking the work.

Will be in touch about this in the next few weeks, thanks – Leila

p.s. Sorry for late response, I missed the notification.