During 2013/14 Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) supported 36 new ventures and buyouts, according to its annual review. Among these were 19 new co-operative consortia, in sectors including tourism, creative industries, forestry and renewables.
CDS says this will enable more than 150 businesses to reduce costs, share risks and create new platforms for growth. It estimates this will increase to more than 350 businesses within the next three years.
Some 79% of these consortia said they chose the model for marketing purposes, 42% said it helped with tendering and 37% chose it for the purpose of innovating.
CDS, which promotes co-operative and employee-ownership business models throughout Scotland, says it is currently advising 91 businesses on employee ownership.
It has been working to influence the succession agenda, for example by helping to create incentives for employee ownership through active membership of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’ stakeholder group on employee ownership.
CDS aims to achieve a tenfold increase in employee ownership over the next decade, and establish 350 new co-ops.
In 2013/14 it supported eight new community ventures, and earlier this year it launched Community Shares Scotland to help communities raise investment. Funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Carnegie UK Trust, it will be led by Development Trusts Association Scotland, Co-operatives UK and Plunkett Foundation, with CDS as a member of its expert reference group.
CDS has also helped to develop teaching materials and toolkits for universities and colleges, which have been piloted by two universities with positive outcomes. It is now pursuing support from the Scottish Funding Council for wider roll-out.
Internationally, in 2013/14 it advised the Malawi Trade & Investment Institute on Scotland’s approach to co-operative development, and took part in a transnational project led by the Flemish government to promote co-operative entrepreneurship in European member states and regions.