Scaling a digital cooperative education and acceleration programme
EIT Climate-KIC provided grants for the purpose of COVID-19 regeneration and employment sustainability towards a sustainable re-envisioned future of work, which was awarded to our consortium. In the context of this project, European citizens with limited or no prior experience in operating a business had the chance to develop their cooperative platform idea, prove their business model, and connect to a global movement of inclusive digitalisation. The project was co-designed with the University of Mondragon and the Mondragon Cooperative.
The project, was divided into two components:
- Component 1: Develop and implement a scaling strategy for a digital course: The Consortium together wtih the New School in New York, developed and tested a first pilot course. Further, a second edition was launched with 400+ participants from around the world. We thoroughly assessed the digital course in order to elaborate a scaling strategy and improve its second edition. The model prooved to be successful and for future iterations financially viable given achieved participation fees and grants. The course continues to run in regular bi-annual itterations and is organised, post-project now by the Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) (https://platform.coop/)
- Component 2: Provide acceleration services to scale the solutions from the digital course: The purpose of this component was to identify the concrete solutions with potential for financial sustainability and climate impact amongst the broad participants of the education component, and develop these solutions to a point where they are able to grow independently (i.e. proven business model, early-stage investment). We developed an extensive accelerator framework and online methodology to support start-ups. To support the 10 accelerated teams, we engaged 15+ mentors and experts, conducted over 20 training and coaching sessions, pitching opportunities to a broad set of stakeholders, financiers and organisations with 80+ participants in the final Demo Day to promote the future of work and demonstrate examples of sustainable platforms. More information can be found on https://coopworks.online. Successful startups included for example fairbnb.coop who offer a cooperative alternative to airbnb, or the doorstep collective who offer alternative to investor owned food delivery services.
The project concluded with a Final Performance Report, describing the project activities in detail, its results and lessons learned. Our final analysis of the course content and the results of the accelerator were presented to the client to help develop future online programmes.
The final numbers of participants in the Second Editions have been the following:
- Over 401 people from 46 different countries
- Over 60% of participants actively pursuing entrepreneurial path
- Over 40 partner organisations supporting the projects locally
- Over 100 platform cooperative projects initiated in first course
- Over 20 research papers
- Developed, piloted, revised and scaled an online course for a two-month online accelerator programme
- Posted diverse marketing materials in social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as LinkedIn to reach out to the audience
- Formed two groups of participants based on UN Development index (for keeping the fee accessible)
- Managed the accelerator programme, including stakeholders (i.e. coaches, mentors, investors)
- Delivered courses on, inter alia: the Cooperative Advantage; Scaling the Worker Co-op Model; Inequality, Customer Validation, Testing, Prototype & First Minimum Viable; Technology Frame; Financial Frame, Business Plan Feasibility, Impact Investment Strategy, Communication Strategy & Pitching etc.
- Planned and hosted a final Demo Day with over 50 participants
- Accelerated 10 platform cooperatives.