A £2,000 start-up grant is on offer to budding digital co-operatives, who have been invited to pitch their ideas to a Dragon’s Den-style panel.
Applicants to the #DigiDen competition must submit a short proposal and a shortlist of entries will be called to make their pitch.
This will take place in front of an audience at OPEN:2017, the UK’s multi-day conference for platform co-operatives in London on 16-17 February.
The winning team gets four days of bespoke business advice provided by the Hive (equivalent to £2,000); a £2,000 start-up grant provided by the Co-operative Bank; and one day with the Open Co-op.
Ten additional ‘runner up’ applicants who didn’t make the shortlist will be invited to attend OPEN:2017 for free.
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, said: “We are seeing more and more sectors of the economy disrupted by online platforms, from Deliveroo to Uber.
“They are revolutionising so many aspects of our lives – but what is not changing are the patterns of ownership, where a relatively small number benefit from success of the platform and the workers benefit little.
“Imagine, though, if the platforms we used every day were owned by the workers and the users themselves. Platform co-ops are a route to doing this. Getting a new co-op off the ground takes a mix of great ideas, effort and advice.
“DigiDen is a great opportunity for aspiring platform co-op owners to kick-start their projects with some extremely valuable start-up funds and support. I look forward to seeing the ideas and innovations that come out of the competition.”
Oliver Sylvester-Bradley, co-founder of the Open Co-op, added: “The competition presents a unique opportunity for anyone interested in setting up a new co-operative, which uses internet technology, to help make the world a better place.
“The platform co-op model provides a blueprint for online, member-owned businesses, which paves the way to a radically different economy. Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo are not going to go away, so it is up to us to develop equitable alternatives. This is your chance to get involved and to help build a collaborative, sustainable economy.”
Josef Davies-Coates, co-founder of the Open Co-op, added: “The co-op movement needs to wake up to the amazing opportunities the internet offers for a more collaborative, co-operative society and to embrace open-source technology.
“OPEN:2017 is the first event of its kind where these issues will be discussed in detail and we encourage anyone and everyone to get involved.”
- Groups are invited to enter the #DigiDen competition at www.thehive.coop/pitch by 23:59 on 27 January. The prize will be awarded at the OPEN:2017 – Platform Co-ops conference at Goldsmiths, University of London on 17 February.