Who can apply to The Hive?

The Hive has three pathways of support:

  • Pathway 1: For start‑up groups and recently incorporated co-ops.
  • Pathway 2: For existing co‑ops looking to grow and develop.
  • Pathway 3: For businesses looking to convert to co‑operative or community ownership.

The Hive support is open to groups in the process of starting a co-operative, newly incorporated co-ops and in the early days of trading.

We welcome strong applications from all sectors and from all regions of the UK. Below outlines specific criteria and objectives that we are looking to achieve and that will make your application for support even stronger.

Essential criteria

Your co-operative is or will be based in the UK.

Your co-operative is or will be a trading and sustainable business.

  • You are already or you aspire to be a business with a clear trading model and you aim to sustain or grow jobs or members.
  • You are already or aim to generate a surplus which will be distributed among members, reinvested in the business or will benefit your local community e.g. a community fund or improved services.
  • You will not be wholly dependent on charitable donations or grants.
  • Please also read the should my business be a co-operative guidance.

Additional criteria

Co‑operatives from key sectors

The Hive welcomes strong applications from all sectors. However, we are particularly interested in applications from the following:

  • Creating fairer working conditions for freelance or casual workers, particularly in the ‘gig’ economy where work can be precarious.
  • Creating more collaborative digital and tech ownership models e.g. platform co‐ops (see also the UnFound programme)
  • Delivering improved health and social care provision.

Co‑operatives offering something new

  • Your co-operative offers, or aspires to offer, something new. You may be filling a gap in the market or creating alternative and more democratic solutions to specific issues or challenges. Your model has the potential for scaling-up or being replicated.
  • Examples might include providing access to better quality services which benefit local community that might not otherwise exist, delivering affordable quality community-owned housing or innovative community-owned renewable energy projects.

Co‑operatives from key regions/nations and demographics

The Hive welcomes strong applications from across the UK. However, we are particularly interested in applications from the following regions:

  • Lincolnshire and East of England
  • Midlands
  • North East​
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

We are also interested in supporting co-ops which serve or benefit under-represented communities such as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities or young people.

The Hive is open to applications all year round with applications reviewed at monthly panel assessment meetings. We aim to notify applicants of the outcome within two weeks of a monthly panel meeting, which means that the maximum amount of time an applicant will have to wait for a decision following submission is eight weeks. 

If you've read through or downloaded the application guidance already, you can take our quick eligibility checker before proceeding to The Hive application form:


The Hive offers expert one-to-one and peer-to-peer business support, skills training as well as online resources. There are three pathways of support:

Pathway 1

Start‑up groups and recently incorporated co-ops

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Pathway 2

Existing co‑ops looking to grow and develop.

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Pathway 3

Businesses looking to convert to co‑operative or community ownership.

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FREE workshops: Is a co-operative right for you?

The Hive runs FREE half-day workshops, taking place across the UK, for groups looking to start a co‑operative or anyone wanting to learn more. To date over 300 groups have attended these sessions, many going onto plan and start their own co-operative enterprises.

View dates and locations >

Hear from some of the groups and co‑operatives who have received support through The Hive. Watch and read case studies…

Updated: 27/03/2019