COLLABORATION PRIZE WINNER SPOTLIGHT – Healthworks

We’ll be taking a closer look at each of our Collaboration Prize winners and learning more about their plans for the future. Next up is Healthworks…

Healthworks Consortium, L-R Niall Gosman, Marney Ackroyd, Karen Davidson, Kevin Dewar

Healthworks members Niall Gosman, Marney Ackroyd, Karen Davidson, Kevin Dewar

Healthworks is a new consortium formed of health and wellbeing professionals based in East Lothian.  It works in partnership with businesses to optimise their employees’ physical, psychological and personal wellbeing,

Comprising four member businesses, Healthworks offers a range of expertise in areas including physiotherapy, nutrition, psychological therapies and counselling, fitness training, behavioural risk management training and employee health assessments.  Working with businesses to identify the health and behavioural risks and barriers that prevent them from getting the best from their employees, Healthworks develops innovative, integrated health and wellbeing services and solutions that clients can ‘own’.  Each service is designed to address the unique needs and culture of the individual business and delivered in the way that best meets their needs.

Karen Davison from Healthworks spoke to us about winning the Prize:  “We are thrilled to have been selected as one of the winners and are looking forward to working together to develop programmes which will have a wide-reaching benefit for both employees and their employers. The generous prize will help us brand, package and promote our offering to get it in front of the right people, as well as enable us to develop new resources and tools to boost the services we can deliver, both face to face and online.

“Working together in this manner is beneficial for many reasons – not only does it allow us to access more opportunities and secure larger scale contracts, it also gives us all an excellent degree of professional satisfaction. Delivering a truly comprehensive service that reflects the many intricate aspects of an individual’s health and wellbeing requires a tailored approach incorporating expert knowledge and experience across a range of disciplines. We believe collaboration is the most effective way of providing this, and are hopeful that we can continue to develop our offering as we are joined by members in further areas of expertise.”

Healthworks Consortium, L-R Kevin Dewar, Karen Davidson, Niall Gosman, Marney Ackroyd

The member businesses in Healthworks are:

  • Dovetail Partnerships (North) Ltd, East Lothian
  • First for Fitness, East Lothian
  • Midlothian Physiotherapy LLP, Midlothian
  • Marney Ackroyd, Edinburgh

Five points from Italy’s co-operative capital

Jaye Martin 03CDS specialist advisor Jaye Martin recently took part in a study trip to Emilia Romagna, the area of northern Italy with probably the richest co-operative history in the world.

Here, she reflects on the visit and looks at how Scotland can learn from the region.

The tour I was lucky enough to be part of was a collaboration between the University of Bologna and Saint Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax, Canada. I joined a group of students undertaking a part-time Master’s Degree in Co-operative Management at SMU, all of whom are managers at co-operatives across Canada and the United States. Their organisations include food co-ops, insurance co-ops, credit unions and co-op development and their experiences provided me with valuable insight.

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One of the Towers of Bologna

Our chief executive, Sarah Deas, wrote a series of comprehensive blogs on her own experiences in Emilia Romagna a couple of years ago. With that in mind, I thought I’d simply touch on my highlights reel – although I can assure you that it was an intense eight days packed with visits to co-operatives and lectures on co-operative theory and economics!

So here’s my five most interesting points of learning:

1. Co-operatives are one of the most important tools in the reduction of inequality  Bologna – the capital of the Emilia Romagna region – has a lower unemployment  rate than other Italian cities. Emilia Romagna itself ranks first in Italy in terms of equality, evidenced by high average income and low income inequality.  Female participation in the workplace is significantly higher in Emilia Romagna (c65%) than in the rest of Italy (c45%). All of this can be linked back to the presence of co-operatives in the area.

IMG_01532. Social co-operatives… the future?

Legislation was introduced in Italy to create the legal and tax structure for the ‘social co-operative’ (what we might call a ‘social firm’).  At least 30% of employees must be categorised as disadvantaged (e.g. those affected by drug or alcohol addiction, physical or mental disabilities).  We visited some wonderful examples, such as Cooperativo Il Cammino e L’altro Giardino (‘The Alternative Garden’), a residence and gardens where herbs, fruit and vegetables are grown and used to make products such as jams and syrups.  Social co-operatives were oft-mentioned as the potential future growth area of the sector, but funding and support is increasingly hard to come by – so much will depend on the economic sustainability of projects and how they diversify and adapt to achieve this.

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Caseificio 4 Madonne

3. Caseificio 4 Madonne and the mix of the traditional and the innovative

My favourite visit – and not just because we got to taste all the lovely Parmigiano Reggiano cheese! Caseificio 4 Madonne is one of 350 Parmigiano Reggiano co-operatives in the region and together they form a huge consortium.  Caseificio 4 has 65-70 member farmers and produces 104 wheels of cheese each day.  We were shown the various stages of production and I was struck by the clever merging of traditional methods (e.g. use of muslin cloths and copper cauldrons) and innovative methods without the loss of the integrity and provenance of the product.  Perhaps something for Scottish food and drink companies to consider?

4. Co-operative funds – replicable here?

Co-operatives in Italy must pay 3% of their annual profits into one of three funds (each controlled by one of the three co-operative associations).  We visited Coopfond, the largest of the funds at 422m EUR and controlled by Legacoop.  The fund is used for the promotion of start-up co-operatives, growth capital for expansion and support for co-operatives in financial distress.  They will also help fund worker buyouts such as Greslab.  Given the issues around access to finance for employee-owned businesses and co-operatives in the UK, could a similar initiative be a potential game-changer?

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Our group outside University of Bologna

5. The importance of international connections

This study trip was important not just for the opportunity to see and hear about the strength of co-operative models in the region, but also to meet and discuss with fellow co-operators from Italy, Canada, USA and England.  Everyone in the group had a different interest or angle to their observations and questions and, for me, that was just as fascinating as the visits and lectures themselves. What is clear is that we should seek to build on these experiences, relationships and learning as far as possible as we continue to support company growth in Scotland using co-operative business models.

What do Co-operatives mean to you?

What words spring to mind when you think of co-operatives? Do you think of a specific business model or company? Perhaps you think of the business benefits? Maybe you reflect on your own experience?

We asked our team for their suggestions and compiled the answers into this word cloud – which we think is a terrific summary.CDS word cloud

What would you add to the list?

 

Avarix – a model approach?

Gavin Tosh1Inspired by a “Hackathon”, a novel consortium made up of IT students and business consultants is helping build fledgling careers and establish reputations across the world.

Linked to the University of Strathclyde, Avarix has already worked with some of the world’s largest companies. Here, Gavin Tosh of Clerwood Legal Services looks at how they’ve achieved that success.

Avarix is a consortium comprising computer science students at the University of Strathclyde and business consultants with their own companies who work part time for the university’s Enterprise Hub.

The initial idea for Avarix came from a cross-university “Hackathon”, where several universities collaborated to tackle a real-life technical challenge for an external organisation using video conferencing.

The success of this collaboration prompted an approach to Co-operative Development Scotland to form a formal consortium. With the help expert advisers – myself and Gill Joy of Intend Business Development – the consortium successfully formed and was incorporated on 31st January 2015.

This model helps Avarix capitalise on the significant technical talent amongst the computer science students by allying them with external business expertise in one commercial entity.

avarix logoWhile work for external customers was being undertaken by individuals already, including for big name companies such as JP Morgan, Barclays, VISA, Amazon, SkyScanner and the Mozilla Foundation, the experts did not have the capacity to handle multiple requests or more complex jobs. Being part of the consortium removes this constraint and offers greater capacity for work.

The consortium has already delivered several benefits for members. In the first three months of trading alone, Avarix secured orders worth over £150k.

Bringing together the varying skills of members means Avarix can pursue wider business opportunities and bid for different kinds of work. To help cope with peaks in demand and grow the customer base, the core group wanted to be able to formally involve other students in the business.

The consortium co-operative provided a flexible membership structure, allowing students to both carry out work and potentially join the consortium as associate or full members.

Inevitably some student members will need to leave for various reasons, such as gaining full-time employment out-with Scotland. The consortium cooperative makes this process easy, unlike say a company limited by shares.

Having access to funding and reduced operating costs provides a stable financial base and student members benefit from good business experience. Combining resources means members have a greater overall marketing budget, which has helped attract new business.

The external consultants will share in the commercial success of the team but can still manage and grow their own businesses independently.

With early signs of success, more clients in the pipeline and students keen to be a part of Avarix,

could this be a model which can be replicated in other Scottish universities and colleges in sectors other than IT/computer science?

Can Scotland learn from the Basque experience?

Jim_Maxwell,_Business_Development_Manager,_Co-operative_Development_Scotland_resizedThe Mondragon Corporation – based in Spain’s Basque region – has evolved from humble beginnings to become the country’s tenth largest company.

Here, Jim Maxwell of CDS discusses how a recent visit to the area highlighted the benefits of the worker co-operative model.

Equality and a fairer society are at the heart of our new economic strategy for Scotland so in a recent visit to Spain I was keen to see how those same goals are being addressed in the Basque Country.

Started in 1956 by a local priest motivated to reduce poverty in three narrow, steeply sided valleys south of Bilbao, the Mondragon Corporation has evolved into a ‘mega-co-operative’, providing work for 74,000 people in 110, mainly industrial, worker-owned co-operatives.

View over Mondragon’s many co-operatives

View over Mondragon’s many co-operatives

Mondragon’s mission is the creation of wealth in society, delivered through a system of membership, rather than just employment for its workers. In return for a small input of initial capital and monthly contributions, each member receives a good salary and an excellent range of social and welfare benefits.

Equality and fairness are central to this system. The highest salary is no more than six times that of the lowest, all are entitled to the same benefits and no-one is paid overtime.  At the end of each year resources are transferred between companies to help strengthen those in difficulty and preserve jobs.

Job security is a hot topic in Mondragon at present. Following the closure last year of one of the member co-ops, Fagor Electrodomestico, all but 223 of its 2,000 workers have now been redeployed to jobs elsewhere in the group or have taken early retirement. A supreme effort is being made to find posts for the remaining 223, all of whom continue to receive 80 per cent of their salary.

Most surprising is the speed at which all this has been achieved.  The Mondragon Corporation took its present form only in 1992. Its overarching structures – a bank (‘Caja Laboral’), nine technical research institutes, the Mondragon University and a central co-ordinating body – have all been created within just a few decades.

Such rapid growth has been possible because of the highly engaged workforce and Mondragon’s treatment of capital as primarily a resource for the creation of sustainable employment and the improvement of people’s lives.

Mondragon Corporation's Training and Development Centre

Mondragon Corporation’s Training and Development Centre

The visionary model is impressive, but Mondragon has to be judged by its achievements.  Collaboration between the member co-operative companies has enabled all, with one exception, to survive the recession.

There have been virtually no lob losses among members across the group and a good standard of living has been provided to all. The Mondragon Corporation’s focus on creating ‘wealth in society’ has resulted in the Basque area having the most equal redistribution of wealth in Europe, as measured by Eurostat.

But a word of caution, the Mondragon model may not transfer easily to other places. What evolved south of Bilbao was in direct response to local needs and opportunities – poverty, weak state services, a strong sense of ‘national’ identity and a collective will to expand underperforming industries when the Franco regime ended in 1975.

So what can Scotland learn from all this? In Mondragon we have the clearest possible view of how the worker-owned business model can succeed. More than this, it shows how striving for socio-economic (not simply economic) outcomes can help create a fairer and more equal society.

This might be just the right moment to consider how worker-ownership could play a bigger part in shaping the future Scottish economy.

Free workshops on tendering together

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A series of free workshops on Tendering Together will be held by the Supplier Development Programme (SDP) from next month.

Here, Gillian Cameron, programme manager at SDP describes why the workshops will be a major help to Scottish business.

Our two part course, starting in May, is designed for companies and third sector organisations which have a good level of tendering experience and are looking to increase their market through collaborative bids.

Businesses can choose to attend the first part of the course in May – either in Falkirk on May 19, Glasgow on May 21 or Edinburgh on May 28 – with all delegates then able to attend the second day in the Lighthouse, Glasgow on June 4.

Topics include:

  • Why collaborate – opportunities and barriers
  • Types of collaboration
  • Finding and assessing partners, early discussions
  • Preparing a joint proposal/tender – tips and templates
  • Consortium agreements, legal documents

This is a unique opportunity for SMEs to get expert training on what it means to work collaboratively together.

There are a number of fantastic business opportunities coming up in Scotland for 2015, including Glasgow’s City Deal. By working collaboratively SMEs can ensure they are best placed to benefit and compete within the market place.

Places are limited and companies interested in attending should reserve their free place via www.sdpscotland.co.uk.

For more information contact info@sdpscotland.co.uk

Bright future ahead for Collaboration Prize winners

Adventures in LightAt the end of March, we announced the winners of our Collaboration Prize. One of those winners was Adventures in Light, an Edinburgh-based consortium which triumphed in our tendering category.

Here, chairwoman Cristina Spiteri discusses the group’s excitement at being named a winner and how they plan to use the prize money.

This is a hugely exciting time for Adventures in Light. There are three individuals in our group – a 3D artist, filmmaker and carpenter – and we have big plans and are ready to shine.

While we are individual businesses, we have been collaborating together for two years. In fact, we’ve already enjoyed a number of successes and have so far worked with the Edinburgh Science Festival, T in the Park, The Tinderbox Orchestra and Scottish Dance Theatre.

Adventures in LightBut when we found out there was a way for us to form a business from our collaboration, we were really excited. It’s absolutely perfect for us and we were already naturally working in that way.

Winning the Collaboration Prize will open up so many doors for us. Our vision is to create dynamic projected installations for musical and cultural performances.

Adventures in LightWe also have a focus on utilising projection mapping for brand promotion and interior design, something which is currently not available from one company in Scotland. And thanks to CDS and the Collaboration Prize, we can engage more prospective clients.

By working as a consortium, we can pool our expertise to allow for seamless ideas from creation to execution. The prize money will allow us to purchase more advanced equipment and embark on more ambitious installations.

It makes sense for clients to talk to one body rather than three individual businesses. It also means we can grow to involve other companies and artists to go for bigger jobs. Forming our official consortium is so exciting and offers so much growth potential for us.

Want to keep up-to-date with Adventures in Light? Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Vimeo.

Eyes on the Prize: Screen Facilities Scotland

In just under two weeks, we’ll be announcing the winners of this year’s Collaboration Prize.

Over recent weeks, we’ve been looking at past winners including The Wee Agency and Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland. Now, our focus turns to Screen Facilities Scotland (SFS).

SFS, winners of the competition in 2012, is a collaboration of Scottish-based film, television and commercials facilities companies.

Before joining forces, members felt that many lucrative contracts were being won by businesses based outside Scotland – particularly in the south-east of the UK.

By forming a consortium co-operative, they would be able to pitch for work in a more efficient and cohesive way. In the process, they could increase core business and help to grow the Scottish film, TV and commercials production sector.

They would also become a voice for the industry, pressing the cause for more support and facilities for production companies across the country.

We’ll be looking at a previous winner of the Collaboration Prize each week on CDSblog.co.uk, ahead of our big announcement…

Eyes on the prize – Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland

As we inch closer to the announcement of this year’s Collaboration Prize winners, we’re looking back at past successes.

We first showcased The Wee Agency and this week we turn our attention to Music Co-OPERATIVE Scotland.

In 2011, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera moved from full-time to part-time working. Keen to ensure a positive future, members chose to form a consortium co-operative to sell their services.

They entered the Collaboration Prize in 2012 and were selected as one of the winners. And with our support, they were able to make their collaborative dream a reality.

We’ll be looking at a previous winner of the Collaboration Prize each week on CDSblog.co.uk, ahead of our big announcement…

Diversifying together could be the new way of working…

Jaye Martin 03A recent event, organised by the Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) in conjunction with Robert Gordon University’s Business School in Aberdeen, illustrated that the offshore wind market represents a big opportunity for Scottish SMEs who currently operate in oil and gas.

CDS specialist adviser Jaye Martin was there to share her expertise on how collaborative working could be the key to making a move in to this new area a reality…

The ETP – the largest power and energy research partnership in Europe – organised this event to help equip Scottish SMEs to make the move from oil and gas into offshore renewables.

With three new wind farms recently gaining consent and an imminent decision expected on the contract for a further wind farm, there has never been a better time to take advantage of this developing market.

Delegates at the workshop listened to first-hand experiences from Scottish businesses that have already successfully ‘straddled the divide’, such as Seaway Heavy Lifting and Ecosse Subsea Systems.

There were also discussions on the regulatory and contractual landscape of offshore renewables compared to oil and gas and the supply chains and alliances pertinent to the offshore wind sector.

The various funding opportunities available for SMEs looking to diversify were showcased, including Scottish Enterprise’s Offshore Wind Expert Support, Enterprise Europe Network Scotland, Interface and new SMART/R&D grant funding for alliances.

I featured as one of the workshop’s ‘three-minute wonders’ which gave me a small (but perfectly formed) opportunity to talk to the audience about CDS and the support we can provide for companies considering collaborative working as a means to enter new markets.

Throughout the afternoon words such as partnering, alliances, consortia were commonplace and it was clear the audience had an appetite for trying something new in an industry which has yet to standardise approach.

CDS looks forward to working with more SMEs in this sector as they look to conquer new markets, we can add real value with our business models to diversify for success.