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Intercooperation among tech cooperatives: from New Zealand to the UK

25 November 2016 [ English ] français ]

Cooperatives from the digital sector are joining together in the UK around the Megazord project, a coalition of tech-focused cooperatives that pool their resources to achieve their shared aims: “making the world better and fairer with technology”. The collective is taking inspiration from New Zealand-based Enspiral, a network of tech ventures and cooperatives which operates a system of collaborative funding to support “work that matters”.

They want to foster inter-co-op-cooperation among cooperatives in the same sector, but how? They have launched a “coop of coops” in the UK’s digital sector by tech workers hoping to build a socially-conscious cooperative movement across the industry. The new collective is taking shape after more than two-dozen tech cooperatives gathered for the first time in November, at a three-day retreat in northern England.

They are coming together to share skills and resources and to champion the idea of “tech for good”, which has been placed firmly at the heart of the network. Members of the collective, which has adopted a working title of Cooperative Technologists, are hoping to use technology to help the wider community and they are already talking about pooling surpluses in order to fund worthwhile projects.

Cooperatives from London, Birmingham, Oxford, Sheffield and Glasgow were among those to descend on Wortley Hall in South Yorkshire – dubbed “the workers’ stately home” – to get the ball rolling. These included web development co-ops Outlandish, from north London, Agile Collective, from Oxford, and Birmingham-based Co-operative Web.

Brian Spurling, from Outlandish, said: “It’s an attempt to create something that is bigger than the sum of its parts. “The idea is it makes us stronger together. We’re talking about winning work we could not win otherwise, and sharing work between us as we work more efficiently – making sure everyone is busy as they want to be.”

He added: “Then it’s about maximising the amount of social value work we can do. The seven cooperative principles contain something vague about helping the community – we are taking that to a more extreme level.

“Together we can massively increase our capacity to do that ‘tech for good’ work.”

Mr Spurling added: "The retreat exceeded all expectations. Something very exciting is starting, there’s a real energy and willingness to cooperate which we’re hoping to massively propel forward."

More information: Megazord Hackpad