Tag: consortium (Page 1 of 3)

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

Creative Consortium Sheds Light on Collaboration Prize Benefits

Scottish Enterprise's David Smith pictured with Adventures in Light's Cristina Spiteri and Richard Anstice

Scottish Enterprise’s David Smith pictured with Adventures in Light’s Cristina Spiteri and Richard Anstice

This Thursday 12 November, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop launched the 2015/16 Collaboration Prize – which aims to encourage companies to consider establishing a consortium.

Businesses from the creative industries are being invited to submit entries by 17 December for a chance to win £5,000 cash and up to £5,000 in support to set their idea in motion. Up to five winners will be selected to take a share of the prize fund.

Adventures in Light was one of last year’s Collaboration Prize winners. The consortium brings together a 3D artist, filmmaker and carpenter to create dynamic projected installations for musical and cultural performances.

Here, chairman Cristina Spiteri describes Adventures in Light’s experience of collaboration and how they have benefited from winning the Prize.

It all began when Susanna, Richard and I met serendipitously in a field whilst VJ-ing at a festival. As artists we believed that by pooling our expertise we could offer customers something completely new and exciting – delivered seamlessly from idea creation to execution. We also found that working together enabled us to collectively use resources to purchase more advanced equipment and embark on more ambitious installations.

After a year working together (during which we provided installations for T in the Park, Edinburgh Science Festival and the Scottish Dance Theatre) we decided to enter the Collaboration Prize to formalise our partnership and reach new heights.

Judges liked our streamlined approach to tendering which delivered value for money to customers and maximum return for the business. For us, it makes sense for clients to be talking 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. As a prize winner, we received support from CDS to formalise our arrangement and set up a consortium. We also received consultancy assistance to develop our collaboration further as well as £5,000 cash to inject into the business.

Winning the prize has opened so many doors for us. It has allowed us to invest in essential new kit which has supported us to keep experimenting and inventing – something all creative businesses should do. We’ve also had the opportunity to work on some fantastic new projects including the International Science Festival and the Kelburn Garden Party.

Collaborating is now at the core of our business. It has allowed us to bring in specialist skills, and together craft something truly unique and far beyond what we could produce on our own.

Our advice to anyone considering entering the Prize is ‘go for it’. It’s a fantastic opportunity and it has really helped us to grow and succeed.

Entries to the competition must be submitted by midnight, December 17. To enter, go towww.scottish-enterprise.com/collaborationprize.

Support with preparing submissions is available from CDS. For more information email info@cdscotland.co.uk.

The Collaboration Prize was launched by Scottish Enterprise (SE), in partnership with Creative Scotland, Cultural Enterprise Office, Interactive Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and delivered by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS).

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?

Free workshops on tendering together

Gill headshot 2

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.

Eyes on the Prize – The Wee Agency

It’s almost time to reveal this year’s Collaboration Prize winners!

But before we unveil the lucky consortia each receiving  £10,000 to make their collaborative dream a reality, we wanted to take a look at some of our past winners who have gone on to great things.

First up is The Wee Agency, a collaboration between design specialists 2bcreative, IT company Alchemy+ and PR and digital marketing consultancy, Muckle Media.

They won the Collaboration Prize in 2013 and have since gone from strength to strength, working together to tender for contracts under one banner.

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

The power of collaboration

Gavin Tosh1Working together can help businesses reach the next level, but the need to form a legal entity can sometimes be seen as off-putting.

Here, Gavin Tosh of Clerwood Legal Services discusses how forming a consortium is a simple option for companies looking to reap the benefits of collaboration.

Many businesses work together. This can be for a variety of reasons, but lack of formalisation can limit how far this goes.  Should they want to open a bank account for joint funds or enter into contracts, it is likely an identifiable legal entity will need to be created.

For some, this may sound like a costly commitment. However, there is a model which allows for the formation of the necessary legal entity with minimal financial or legal commitment:  the consortium co-operative.

Consortiums offer an ideal solution for businesses looking to collaborate while retaining their own independence. Members can be limited companies, partnerships or individuals, with membership any size from two upwards.

The benefits are numerous:

  • Reduce costs of doing business
  • Share the risks when exploring new markets
  • Jointly tender for contracts
  • Buy, sell or market on behalf of members
  • Share facilities such as back offices or premises
  • Attract funding
  • Employ staff

Clerwood Legal Services has worked in conjunction with CDS for a number of years, delivering training to SMEs on collaborative tendering techniques. Now, along with Intend Business Development, we are serving as specialist advisers, helping businesses through the process of forming consortium co-operatives.

A Valentine’s message

As we are celebrating Valentine’s Day today, we asked members of the CDS team to tell us what they love most about co-operative working.

Gillian Kirton: I love the “we are all in it together” attitude we often hear from employee owned companies – it makes the staff go that extra mile!

Carol Boden: Employee ownership helps make the business world a fairer place through empowerment and engagement of all staff members.

Jaye Martin: I love co-operatives because the consortium model can be a great way for small businesses to collaborate and compete with larger companies.

Cathy McCready: I love the fact that cooperatives work together to grow together.

What do you love most about co-operative working? Why not tweet us, @cdscotland.

Tourism co-operative’s ambitious plans for 2015

Port Appin

Hosting international events such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014 put Scotland firmly in the global spotlight as a top visitor destination. With such opportunity, many businesses are considering how to best take advantage of this new-found fame.

Carron Tobin, development manager of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (ATIC), explains why being part of a consortium is helping many of Scotland’s west coast tourism businesses capitalise on the country’s time in the limelight.

Last year was an unprecedented one for Scotland, with sport, politics, the Homecoming gathering and historical anniversaries giving the country international attention like never before.

Not only did it cement our reputation as a land of spectacular scenery and a friendly welcome, it established Scotland as a vibrant and contemporary tourism destination that has the capacity to wow as much as it does charm.

This offers a tremendous opportunity for tourism businesses – and when it comes to having a competitive advantage, we believe being part of our co-operative consortium really helps us stand out from the crowd.

Coll beach

When we formed in 2012, businesses of varying sizes across the area pooled finances, contacts and industry knowledge to create an umbrella brand and marketing plan to set Argyll and the Isles apart from the rest of Scotland and the UK as an unmissable tourist destination.

By offering a range of attractive products that tour operators can sell to their customers, we have enjoyed real success, reaching more markets and potential customers than we would ever have managed individually.

This year though – more than ever – we can see the true value of being part of our co-operative as we prepare to launch our most ambitious bid yet to attract more tour operators to our area and our businesses.

For the first time, we will exhibit at three major international trade shows in a single year, supplementing our usual stand at VisitScotland’s EXPO in April, with trips to the Best of Britain & Ireland and Explore GB trade shows.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s board. From left, Carron Tobin, David Currie, Calum Ross, Niall Macalister Hall, chairman Gavin Dick, Iain Jurgensen, Andrew Wilson, Brian Keating and Fiona McPhail.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s board. From left, Carron Tobin, David Currie, Calum Ross, Niall Macalister Hall, chairman Gavin Dick, Iain Jurgensen, Andrew Wilson, Brian Keating and Fiona McPhail.

These events are vital to engage with tour operators across the world and have potential to attract thousands of new customers for our businesses, taking advantage of Scotland’s incredible 2014.

Quite simply, we couldn’t have done this as individual companies or local marketing groups. By working together, we have given our region a genuine competitive edge and delivered a significant boost to members’ trade – underlining just how effective being part of a consortium co-operative can be.

Your Collaboration Prize questions answered

Jaye Martin 03The Collaboration Prize aims to encourage companies to form a consortium to improve their combined business prospects, with up to three winners each receiving prizes of £5,000 in cash and £5,000 support.

This year’s competition is looking for applications that show how forming a consortium could improve marketing, tendering or innovation operations.

Ahead of Friday’s deadline for entries, CDS specialist adviser Jaye Martin answered questions on the competition in a live Twitter Q&A.

Want to work with others and do things bigger, better and faster? Then forming a consortium co-operative could be for you. The potential benefits are numerous:

  • Build a new collective brand and combine resources to reach bigger audiences.
  • Share the risks of expanding into new markets with your partners
  • Compete for larger, more valuable contracts
  • Gain a competitve advantage through economies of scale
  • Have an equal say in the running of the consortium co-operative

During last week’s Q&A, we answered a number of questions from interested parties:

 

 

 

The Collaboration Prize is open to all Scottish businesses, large or small and from any sector. There are three categories – marketing, tendering and innovating – with £10,000 available for each winner.

Remember – the deadline for entries is 3pm on Friday 28 November. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity!

A golden visit – part three

???????????????????????????????From October 6 to 9, Quebec in Canada hosted the second edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, with the main theme being the power of innovation.

Here, CDS chief executive Sarah Deas discusses a US organisation driving employee ownership and takes a trip to a co-operative shopping quarter.

The first part of the blog can be read here and the second part can be read here.

An ESOP (Employee Share Ownership Plan) is another form of employee ownership that is becoming more widely adopted. So, I was delighted to meet Perry Phillips and Camille Jensen (pictured above), from the specialist consultancy, ESOP Builders.

They highlighted that there are now approximately 1000 Canadian ESOPs, the majority (80%) having come about as a succession solution. Most famous is WestJet Airline, where 80% of staff are employee owners (modelled on Southwest Airlines).

Sarah with Roy Messing

Sarah with Roy Messing

I was also delighted to meet Roy Messing, Chris Cooper and Bill McIntyre of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center. Established in 1987, the centre has helped 694 companies consider ownership succession, resulting in 92 employee buyouts and creating 15,000 employee owners. In America there is legislation to support the creation of ESOPs – see my previous blog.

The Center was the driving force behind Evergreen Cooperative – the innovative model of socio-economic development in Cleveland. Whilst there are similarities in our approach, there is clearly much that Scotland can learn from OEOC’s 27 years’ experience. Interestingly, they are currently establishing a Cooperative Development Center – an area where we can share our experience.

???????????????????????????????A visit to Quebec is not complete without a visit to the Quartier Petit Champlain. This delightful shopping quarter in the old city is a co-operative owned by its tenants. 50 artists and traders formed a co-operative to buy the properties. Desjardins, the leading financial co-operative, supported members with loan finance.

A co-operative model was chosen for practical reasons – an ideal model that allows shared management of the buildings and promotion of the quarter to tourists. An elected board has oversight, including approval of new tenants/owners and all members are invited to attend an annual assembly.

So, how do I summarise this visit? A golden experience – not just the leaves on trees, the abundance of pumpkins and the warm hospitality but also in the richness of learning. Thanks to everyone that was so open in sharing your story. Let’s stay in touch!

A golden visit – part two

image7From October 6 to 9, Quebec in Canada hosted the second edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, with the main theme being the power of innovation.

Here, CDS chief executive Sarah Deas looks at the approaches taken by co-operatives in Argentina, Spain and France.

The first part of the blog can be read here.

We heard from the Argentinian Federation of Worker Co-operatives in Technology, Innovation and Knowledge that there has been a boom in worker co-operatives. In 1990 there were just 30, now there are 10,000. Social co-operatives account for the largest proportion, followed by young professionals (mostly in technology, communications and consulting services).

The growth is due to public policy; government contracts have advantaged social and construction sector co-operatives. A percentage of co-operatives’ tax also goes into a fund to support co-operative development.

mondragonWe also heard the Mondragon Corporation story – a federation of worker co-operatives based in the Basque region of Spain. It is the tenth largest Spanish company, employing 74,000 people in 257 companies and organisations spanning finance, industry, retail and knowledge. Mikel Lezamiz described the ‘four-legged support stool’ that supports growth: education, finance, social assistance and innovation. A virtuous circle.

France’s worker co-operative membership association, Les Scop, described how they are promoting the model as a solution to ownership succession. From a negligible number 10 years ago, a growing proportion (currently 15%) of their 2,200 members have chosen the worker co-operative model for succession reasons.

lesscopThis percentage is expected to double in coming years. I was interested to see Les Scop’s TV advert, which forms part of a campaign targeting 55+ year old owners – perhaps an approach that we might pursue in Scotland? Les Scop has also introduced training, on the back of the new law in France that requires all companies to provide training to employees.

image2For anyone interested in worker co-operatives a visit to La Barberie microbrewery is a must! On arriving, I was delighted to see Scotch Ale at the top of the menu – although on this visit Pumpkin Beer was the order of the day.

Established in 1997, this worker co-operative has 25 employees, of which 15 are members. It is one of four microbreweries co-operatives in Quebec province that worked together to produce the ‘Rochdale Beer’ which was launched at the Summit. Thanks to Jessica Provencher for hosting our visit.

Read part three of Sarah Deas’ account of her visit to Quebec.

A golden visit – part one

Sarah Deas resizedFrom October 6 to 9, Quebec in Canada hosted the second edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, with the main theme being the power of innovation.

Here, in the first of three blogs, CDS chief executive Sarah Deas looks back at her trip to North America and reveals some of her key learnings.

October is a wonderful time to visit Quebec … maple trees adorned with golden leaves and pumpkins piled high awaiting Thanksgiving celebrations.

So, I was delighted when I was invited to facilitate a forum at the global International Summit of Cooperatives. This was a huge event attracting over 3,000 delegates from 93 nations. Keynote speakers included Nobel Prize economist Professor Robert Shiller and author of The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson.

Autumn in Quebec

Autumn in Quebec

Throughout the summit, speakers acknowledged the contemporary nature of co-operative models; identifying their relevance and potential for the future. Balanced against this, there was a strong call for promotion of the social values that make the models unique.

As one speaker said “Co-operatives have the DNA – the humanist values – you need to promote these since conventional businesses are now doing so and capturing your ground”.

Canada has a strong co-operative sector. The Canadian Parliament’s ‘Special Committee on Cooperatives’ reported that there are 8,500 co-operatives employing 15,000 people with assets of $330bn.

Quebec accounts for almost 40% of Canadian co-operatives and 50% of associated jobs. The provincial government aims to expand their economic contribution by enhancing the legal framework, availability of finance, advisory services and promotion.

quebec

I attended a really interesting workshop organised by Reseau and the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation, in collaboration with CICOPA. Prominent themes included the difficultly young professionals face in finding work and the increasing number that are deciding to set up their own shared venture (co-operative). Also, recognition that owners are getting older and succession is becoming an issue.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that so many countries are taking a similar approach to Scotland in promoting employee/worker ownership as a solution. A big thank you to Hazel Corcoran for making me so welcome (and helping with translation!)

POSTSCRIPT: So sad that within a fortnight of my visit the openness and hospitality of the Canadians had been assaulted by violence in Montreal and Ottawa. My thoughts are with all those affected. 

Read part two and three of Sarah Deas’ account of her visit to Quebec

 

Collaboration Prize continues to make a difference to winner

Joanna Dewar Gibb, right, with SFS member Amanda Millen

Joanna Dewar Gibb, right, with SFS member Amanda Millen

Screen Facilities Scotland (SFS) is one of the earliest winners of the Collaboration Prize, having formed in 2012 to enter during the inaugural year of the competition.

In the two years since winning the award the consortium, made up of Scottish-based film, television and commercials facilities, has flourished.

Here, Joanna Dewar Gibb, one of the directors of SFS, describes why winning the prize was so important to its development.

We were delighted to be one of three winners of the Collaboration Prize in 2012 and we continue to reap the rewards from that. Since we’ve formed as a consortium, we’ve gone from strength to strength and benefit in many different ways.

The seeds of our co-operative were well and truly planted before we spotted the opportunity to be considered for the prize, but when we did we were pleased to see the entry process was both manageable and straight forward. Our entry was completed and submitted with the minimum of fuss.

And that’s been the case the whole way through.  From being short-listed, to eventually winning and then formally establishing SFS, the whole process has been possible thanks to clear guidance, simple structures and succinct documentation provided by Co-operative Development Scotland.

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We have used the prize money in different ways. It gave us a cash boost while waiting for membership fees to come in during our first year, with the money spent across various activities including collaborative marketing materials our launch networking event and administration costs.

Each of our members has since benefitted from shared marketing and promotional activities, new networking opportunities, better engagement and participation across the creative industry sector and closer working with colleagues and clients, both new and old, all of which helps us work towards a stronger, busier future.

It is no exaggeration to say SFS would not be where it is today if the collaborative consortium business model did not exist and if the Collaboration Prize, comprising of valuable business advice and welcome cash, had not helped us to flourish.

Until we had formed, many lucrative contracts including those originating in Scotland, were won by businesses based elsewhere, particularly in the south-east of the UK, so hopefully SFS has made a difference not just to our own businesses, but to the whole Scottish film, television and commercials production sector.

Myths busted at Co-operative Business Development Seminar

Jim_Maxwell,_Business_Development_Manager,_Co-operative_Development_Scotland_resizedCo-operative Development Scotland’s business development manager, Jim Maxwell, was a guest of Glasgow City Council on Wednesday, speaking at its second Co-operative Business Development Seminar.

Held at the Orkney Street Enterprise Centre, Jim was asked to talk about the use of consortia and the growth of employee ownership. Here, he gives his thoughts on the event.

Glasgow City Council’s commitment to co-operative working in the city was crystal clear on Wednesday when I was invited to speak to around 25 of the city’s business advisers about consortium working and employee ownership.

It was so encouraging to see the interest shown in both these models.  Glasgow’s front-line advisers clearly do feel these are concepts worth introducing to suitable client businesses.

This was a perceptive (and quite challenging!) audience with searching questions about the consortium model and how it provides a collaboration structure with the minimum of risk and bureaucracy.

Interest quickly focused on procurement and how the model is used by groupings of businesses to bid for larger contracts they couldn’t win individually. In fact joint-tendering is the most common use for the consortium model and much of the free support CDS provides is in setting up tendering consortia.

Consortium-based tendering also fits well with Glasgow City Council’s procurement policy and public procurement generally, which aims to achieve local community benefit wherever possible.

The annual CDS Collaboration Prize always produces a rush of interest from businesses interested in forming consortia. This year it launches on October 1 so watch our website for details.

With prizes of £10k up for grabs, my guess is we’ll be receiving a fair few enquiries via the Glasgow business advisers!

The discussion on Employee Ownership turned out to be rather a ‘myth-busting’ session with advisers raising the kind of questions they expect from their client companies, such as:

Q. What if the employees can’t afford to buy the business?

A. The business itself purchases the owner’s shares, not the employees

Q. What if the owner feels the business cannot be run successfully by committee?

A. Employee owned businesses are not run by committee, they have normal management structures.

Q. What if the owner isn’t ready to exit yet?

A. The exiting owner controls the whole process of transition, including the timeframe.  Most successful employee buy outs are planned well in advance.

the futureInterest also focused on the (considerable!) new tax benefits for owners when they pass a controlling interest to an employee trust and how company performance invariably benefits when employees have a meaningful stake via employee ownership.

The steps being taken by Glasgow City Council to ensure local businesses derive benefit from the “Co-operative Council” agenda are exemplary.

The strength of commitment is clear in the overwhelming response to the second stage of their co-operative support grant scheme and the recent announcement of a £1million budget to support business ownership transfer.

Practical steps like these are a real boost to co-operative working in Glasgow, and very much to be commended.

End of the holidays – and the beginning of a busy end to 2014

After a summer of sun and fun – and of course the Commonwealth Games – things are about to return to normal with the end of the school holidays.

Merchant City FestivalIt tends to be this time of the year that businesses across the country refocus their efforts on a strong end to the calendar year, perhaps even taking a fresh look at opportunities to expand revenue further.

We’ve seen many terrific examples this year of how organisations across the country have done this by working co-operatively.

During the Commonwealth Games, the Merchant City Marketing Co-operative helped promote the events linked to the Commonwealth Games – as well as the wider calendar of events and attractions throughout the year.

The Food from Argyll consortium was busy too, helping feed hungry festival-goers and showcasing their produce stalls at BBC at the Quay and the popular Belladrum Festival.

For each of the individual businesses involved in both organisations, such exposure and opportunity may not have been possible on their own.

By coming together, however, they have opened up new markets, boosted sales and increased awareness of their brands, both collectively and as individuals.

And as the nights start to draw in, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how working in such a way can boost your business.

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