Tech Co-ops in the North East


#1

I’m going to a meeting with Gateshead Council on Tuesday about setting up tech co-ops in the region.

We’re going to talk about creating fertile ground for coops to grow, and perhaps start a trial group to find interested people and see what we can build.

I’m posting this ahead of the meeting because I’d love to hear some cotech members’s ideas on creating the conditions for coops to flourish.


#2

Whilst not a developer, I’d be interested to hear how it goes. I’m not in the true North East (based in York) but I’d be happy to lend a hand/support if needed.


#3

Hi

We are a design coop based in i6 in Newcastle. It’s serviced office accommodation set up specifically for tech and marketing businesses. I think the physical working environment is very helpful and can foster co-operation between businesses. We work closely with one of the other businesses in the building.

To create fertile ground for tech coops to grow I think you need access to lots of working capital that will allow the coop to build a good team before they are generating enough income. It’s about finance for the long term … without uncooperative strings attached.

We are in the process of developing a business plan for the next five years and we definitely want to work with tech cooperators.

Good luck and please stay in contact.


#4

Get in touch with http://www.thefederation.coop/ and have a read of this and the projects it mentions:
http://www.somerset.coop/2018/01/co-operative-incubation-in-somerset-and.html

See also the excellent School of Community Enterprise http://edventurefrome.org/

Maybe have a read of this too:
http://ceal.eu/

And check out things like Team Academy (courses already running in a couple of Newcastle universities by the looks of things):


#5

@MattN Brilliant, I’ll try to keep the forum updated and if something starts moving in York, or there’s remote opportunities, I’ll let you know.

@Dave_Alpha I’ll mention the physical environment, and co-operative investment, and keep in contact.

@jdaviescoates Thank you for the links! Going to read them all/ do what you suggest.


#6

if only everyone would! :stuck_out_tongue:


#7

I would hope that the local authorities in the North East are aware of the whole community wealth builsing/solidarity economy approach taken most notably by Preston. This is a great underpinning for cooperative development and support. Local mentors like Alpha Communication also really important. Ideally you’d want skilled cooperative development people on the gorund, backed with great online community/resource. We’re working on building some of that with https://platform6.coop, and of course this discourse is a part of that as well.
and as @Dave_Alpha points out, access to money. Plenty of debt finance is available for cooperatives, but early stage seed money and co-op-friendly quasi-equity is like rocking horse shit.


#8

I hope they’d know about Preston too, but I’ll add it to my notes anyway.

On co-op friendly quasi-equity, a housing co-op I lived in was going to use loanstock to buy solar panels, do you think that’s the kind of thing I should suggest?


#9

I think loanstock is a great option, and has served the likes of Unicorn Grocery in Manchester very well, enabling them to buy their premises and grow. But it is seen by the investor as a low risk investment.

In recent weeks (in the Solidfund Loomio and elsewhere) there’s been plenty of discussion about the gap that exists, especially for start-ups, between the bit where members’ own capital and a few quid from friends and family enables them to get going, and the point at which they have sufficient traction to approach the likes of https://coopfinance.coop, who, whilst their offer if coop-friendly, it ain’t cheap and the minimum loan is something like £10K.

Where the proposal fits, Solidfund might just decide to donate, as it did recently to a start-up in Belfast. That’s just for worker co-ops of course. And if you are start-up multi-stakeholder platform cooperative looking for £250K you are going to be struggling, even with a solid business plan, simply becuase it’s seen as high risk (and probably is). A private sector outfit would be looking for VC money, but that won’t fit a cooperative model very comfortably.

Maybe we need a co-op version of something like http://purpose.capital/en/ ?


#10

This is great stuff, thanks man


#11

or something like this: https://www.theworkingworld.org/us/


#12

Yes, this type of approach could easily be developed by https://coopfinance.coop with a part of their fund. Might be something for Solidfund and/or Platform 6 to consider also.