The search is on for a new cohort of inspiring entrepreneurs who want to develop a digital business in a more collaborative and equitable way...
The accelerator is open for applications from aspiring UK-based digital businesses that want to set up as a co-op. The free programme supports founders in turning their pioneering ideas into successful platform co‑ops.
Platform co‑ops are democratically owned and controlled businesses that use an online platform or mobile app to trade, connect people and pool resources or data. They are built on co-operative principles and values that ensure the business truly responds to the needs of its community. The co-op model also keeps control away from external profit driven investors.
The UnFound Accelerator is a 10-week business development programme delivered by Co-operatives UK and supported by The Co-operative Bank. It draws on an extensive network of experts to help platform co-ops plan their businesses and develop their products, strategy, branding and marketing.
The programme also helps participants find the right co-op model for their digital business and take them through the steps to launch it. With weekly workshops, regular check-ins and tailored one-to-one sessions, aspiring entrepreneurs will go from idea to a viable an operating business.
At the end of the 10-week accelerator, teams are invited to pitch their idea to a live audience and have the chance to win a share of a £10,000 prize fund, provided by The Co-operative Bank.
Last year’s online pitch event was attended by members of the public who voted to decide how the £10,000 prize was distributed.
Coming top and winning £5,000 was RIMA, a platform that aims to empower emerging creative practitioners from the global South by connecting them with international opportunities for funding, residencies, commissions, networking and mentoring.
Carlos Zerpa from RIMA, said: “We are really delighted to have won this year’s UnFound Accelerator pitch event and even more excited about the amazing knowledge we garnered from participating in the bootcamp.
“This grant and the knowledge acquired during the Accelerator will be instrumental in the realisation of RIMA as a product that will empower emerging creative practitioners from the global South by connecting them with international opportunities for funding and mobility. Thank you to Co‑operatives UK and The Co‑operative Bank for all their support.”
In second place was Kocoon, winning £3,000. Kocoon works to equip young people with the knowledge, skills and resources to better understand, manage and improve their wellbeing through improved access to academics, charities and services.
Kocoon founder Isaac Finn said: “We are delighted to have been supported by the Unfound Accelerator and achieving second place in the pitch event. The grant will make a real difference to our growth. We’ll use the money to further develop our platform and create more features. We are excited to show you what we will do next!
“It’s been really useful to learn about the co‑op model, the legal forms, setting up a co‑op business and about community shares. It’s also allowed me to meet other co‑ops in a similar situation and network with a lot of people. Thank you for the support of the co‑operative community in developing our idea. It validates what we’re doing,”
In third place, and winning £2,000 was The Learning Cooperative, which provides highly accessible, anti-capitalist education across a wide range of subjects aimed at students interested in using education as a precursor to sweeping systemic change.
Imtithal Audi from the Learning Co-op, said: “We are very grateful for the opportunity to continue pursuing an anti‑capitalist and inclusive approach to education, with an emphasis on empowering people in the global south. Participating in the accelerator has given us an incredible insight into some very exciting new organisations, and we have learnt and grown a lot by exploring how to create effective workers co‑operatives.”
Do you have an idea for an ethical digital business?
To find out more about the UnFound Accelerator you can attend one of two FREE introductory webinars to see if you are eligible:
To apply for the UnFound Accelerator visit www.unfound.coop/accelerator. The deadline for applications is midnight 5 March. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed at the end of March. The UnFound Accelerator will run from 26 April to 28 June with the pitch event in July.
Visit www.unfound.coop to learn more about platform co-ops and the UnFound programme.
Keep up to date on the Accelerator or other opportunities relating to platform co-operatives by signing up to the UnFound newsletter.