Press release

£2,000 prize and business support for co-op tech entrepreneurs

Budding tech entrepreneurs are being offered the chance to win a £2,000 prize and business support.

People with ideas for new digital co-ops are being invited to pitch their ideas in a dragon’s den-style panel, with the chance of winning £2,000 start-up funding and five days of business advice support.

#DigiDen, the first competition of its kind, is open to entrepreneurs wanting to start a digital co-operative and is brought to you by The Hive, the business support programme from Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Bank, and The Open Co-op.

Applicants are invited to submit a short proposal to enter the competition and a shortlist of entries will be invited to pitch in front of an audience at OPEN:2017, the UK’s multi-day conference dedicated to platform co-operatives in London on 16-17 February 2017.

The winning team will walk away with a unique prize to kick-start their co-op, including:

  • 4 days of bespoke business advice provided by The Hive (equivalent to £2,000)
  • £2,000 start-up grant provided by The Co-operative Bank
  • 1 day with The Open Co-op

Plus, a further 10 'runner up' teams will be invited to attend the Open:2017 – Platform Co-ops conference for free.

Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK’s Secretary General, 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 said:

"We're really excited to be launching #DigiDen in conjunction with The Hive. 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 blue-print for online, member-owned businesses, which paves the way to a radically different economy. So called "death star platforms" like 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, cooperative 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 29 January. The prize will be awarded at the OPEN:2017 – Platform Co-ops conference at Goldsmiths, University of London on the 17 February 2017.