Interactive workshops

Useful, engaging and informative, these interactive sessions will arm you with valuable knowledge and skills. Here's what's confirmed so far: 

Platform co-operatives in practice

A joint initiative from Co‑operatives UK and Nesta, Platform Co‑operatives in Practice was launched to explore and develop the potential of platform co‑operatives. More and more products and services are offered via digital platforms – from freelancers registered on TaskRabbit to drivers using Uber. It’s a business model that offers people unprecedented flexibility and independence. But digital platforms have also been criticised as being exploitative and short sighted.

With this in mind, Co‑operatives UK and Nesta are carrying out research and conducting a series of workshops to explore how the co‑operative model and platform technology can combine to create fairer, more equitable ways of working for everyone involved. Co‑operatives UK's Simon Borkin will share and discuss the initial findings from the research at this workshop. 

Simon leads on the development of Co‑operatives UK’s externally funded programmes, with a focus on community shares. His work currently spans the Community Shares Unit (CSU) and Community Shares Booster Programme schemes, funded by Barrow Cadbury and Power to Change. He is also closely involved in the organisation's work regarding co‑operative innovation, in which he is developing and delivering projects that seek to support co‑operative models in new sectors, models and regions. 

Measuring the social impact of co-operatives

Co‑operatives are associations of members who jointly own and control the enterprise to meet their common needs. Their social role is often assumed, but not easily quantified. This interactive workshop, run by Sonja Novkovic, will address these questions: Why do co‑operatives need to assess their impact on members and communities, and how can they measure their impact? In what ways is the impact of co‑operatives different/similar to other types of enterprise? We will explore and discuss a select group of tools and indicators.

Sonja Novkovic is Professor of Economics at Saint Mary's University, Canada. Chair of the International Co‑operative Alliance Research committee, Sonja’s research interests are in the field of labour‑managed and co‑operative firms, social economy, and comparative economics. She wil be discussing research into the nature of finance and issues related to financing in co‑operatives. She's also a keynote speaker at our plenary session on 'Raising finance the co-operative way'. 

Collaborative Advantage: how collaboration beats competition as a strategy for success

The history of business strategy has been built on the idea that businesses must compete to win. But what if the competitive model of business is now broken? In today’s interconnected world, could strategies to create competitive advantage actually be holding back your co-operative? 

In this session, strategic consultant and social enterpreneur Paul Skinner will explore how Collaborative Advantage can help put human purpose and our innate capacity for co‑operation at the heart of business strategy. He will give examples of how Collaborative Advantage can help you to achieve greater results with fewer resources and mobilise staff and stakeholders around a common purpose. Author of Collaborative Advantage: How collaboration beats competition as a strategy for success, Paul is the founder of the Agency of the Future, which helps clients create Collaborative Advantage to drive organisational success. He is also the founder of Pimp My Cause and supports over two thousand good causes with access to pro bono marketing. 

Co-operative board behaviours

In this session Angela Lomax, member of the Co-operative Governance Expert Reference Panel, will launch the latest Panel Guidance on board behaviours. This practical and participative workshop will explore the importance of good board behaviours and the impact that poor behaviours can have on board dynamics and effectiveness. 

Angela is a director at independent consultancy DTP and has more than 25 years’ experience in housing within the public and private sector. She specialises in governance development, general and performance management, including change management, organisational structure planning, mergers and group structures. Until 2017, Angela was an independent board member at Rochdale Boroughwide Homes (RBH) – the UK’s first tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society. 

Meaningful engagement: the role of co-operatives in place based work 

A discussion on building replicable models for functional and mutually beneficial local economies. Using the Empowering Places programme as an example, we will look at the ways communities can be mobilised and empowered through the development of clusters of enterprise in community ownership with catalytic co-operatives at the centre. 


Co‑op Congress 2018 takes place on Saturday 23 June from 10am to 5.30pm at etc. venues 155 Bishopsgate, London.

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