This week's Federation blog features Amul Batra and Ruth Ng from Northcoders, following their fantastic achievement at the prestigious Chamber Business Awards, London. National winners, Northcoders, took home The Education and Business Partnerships Award and the Business of the Year award, against hundreds of the UK's top businesses.
Director, Amul Batra and Ruth Ng, Head of Growth, tell us what it means to be making waves nationally and reminisce on their past 12 months of growth, and how the North can become world-class.
How did Northcoders come about?
Amul: We were founded because we knew there was a skills shortage in the region. We believed, and still do believe, that the Northern Economy can truly compete nationally and internationally if the North, currently starved of technical talent, grows and maintains its own diverse pipeline of talent to help grow its businesses into global brands. Northcoders’ mission is to deliver big picture change for the North of England and its people, by changing the lives of individuals. Our aim is to accelerate both the growth of the tech sector and its integration into the life and work of the city, to the shared benefit of all.
Ruth: There are simply not enough people in the North who can code. Amul is quite right — the region can compete on the global stage, but will only do that if it has access to the talent it needs. The founders of Northcoders created the business in late 2015 to solve this very problem in an ethical, human way. People come first. Doing good comes first.
What difference has the past 12 months made?
Amul: Working at the Federation has allowed Northcoders to grow into having a proper campus over the last year. We graduated our 250th Northcoder last week and have another 70 students on campus who will be graduating over the next 12 weeks. Northcoders now work at over 70 businesses across the North. We also innovated our course and came up with a new way of delivering our course that was more bespoke to our students' needs and pace of learning. Since launching The Developer Pathway in February 2018, our overall graduate employment rate has risen to 96% with Developer Pathway graduates on average accepting job offers within two weeks of finishing our course.
(the North) can compete on the global stage, but will only do that if it has access to the talent it needs. The founders of Northcoders created the business in late 2015 to solve this very problem in an ethical, human way.
Ruth: Wow, yes. A lot can change in a year! It’s taken a lot of hard work to fine tune everything, but as Amul says, our innovations in the earlier part of the year to allow students to progress at their natural pace has meant a significant rise in our graduate outcomes. We imagine that our commitment to making sure that a coding bootcamp is right for each and every one of our students before they start allows us to surround our students with other committed, passionate learners, leading to happier and more successful Hiring Partners. It’s good for everybody.
What's next for Northcoders?
Amul: What we have delivered in the last 2.5 years is just the start of our journey. Going forward we are going to be continuing with the work we’re doing for the tech scene in the North and working with a number of organisations to increase the diversity of the people able to take our course and ultimately land rewarding careers in tech. We also have a couple of very exciting announcements coming up soon, so watch this space!
Ruth: Always exciting things. We don’t stand still at Northcoders! We can’t wait to show you what’s next, but we’re not quite ready to tell you, so remember to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to keep up with our latest news...
Our “Federation Pledges” series is well underway and following up on our ongoing Displacement in Tech Co-Creation project with Noisy Cricket – a social impact consultancy supporting our members in enabling a more ethical digital society - we’ve spent the past month working with our members and friends of The Federation to better understand displacement.
Displacement Desk-Based Research
Looking to better understand the root causes of displacement, as a community we’ve explored everything from the precedent set by the Industrial Revolution to the most vulnerable groups being impacted by tech creation, and the regulation (or lack of) on tech power and influence as well as determining the difference when people are included in the design process.
Headed up by our co-working colleague Lauren Coulman (Noisy Cricket), and supported by Harriet Mallion (Northcoders), Joss Sessions (Slash Dot Studios), Nicola Marham (Sopra Steria) and Hector Rojas Jiminez (University of Manchester), we now have a huge body of research and insight, not least because of the stakeholder interviews we undertook to help contextualise the issue.
Displacement Stakeholder Interviews
Speaking with representatives from organisations like Kainos, Open Data Manchester, Thoughtworks and Hyper Island, we were able to map the scope of displacement, and understand the factors at play which determine whether tech goes beyond basic market disruption. Basically, when capital gain moves beyond industry to interrupt access to basic human rights, we have an issue.
When capital gain moves beyond industry to interrupt access to basic human rights, we have an issue.
With basic human needs – of safety and security, belonging and connection plus fulfilment– all impacted too, the message from our research was loud and clear. What’s the purpose of tech, and how are we fulfilling its potential beyond capital gain alone?
An uncomfortable question, particularly as organisations and the economy run on and are measured by profit, but what about the bigger societal picture? With our leadership values, organisational processes and people’s behaviour determining the focus and therefore outcomes of the tech we create, considering tech ethics in our product development cycles will be essential.
What is the purpose of the technology we are developing, and how are we fulfilling its potential beyond capital gain alone?
In the coming month, we’ll be sharing our insights with an event at The Federation, examining and discussing the systemic contributors, cultural influences and personal consequences of tech innovation and creation.
In the meantime, we’re creating a tool to help developers, designers and leaders introduce tech ethics to their processes, and engaging the biggest and brightest in the industry to spread the word. We’re working with our members to shape the solution, and we're encouraging more voices to get involved and be heard.
If you want to get involved in this mammoth but important project, please email Lauren Coulman at email@example.com.
For now though, our co-created definition of displacement in tech is yours to mull over, question and consider in your own work. We'd love to hear your thoughts- please get in touch!
Guest blog by Julian Tait, Open Data Manchester
The Federation has become a centre of open data practice, with three organisations - Open Data Manchester CIC, Open Data Services Co-operative and Open Contracting Partnership - calling it home. All three were in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the end of September at the 5th International Open Data Conference (IODC) - a coming together of practitioners, governments and civil society organisations leading best practice across the globe.
Open data...is the idea that data should be freely available to everyone to use and re-publish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control...creating better understanding (of data) through knowledge-sharing and a space for more enlightened and constructive debate, whilst also promoting more transparent and accountable practices."
Many might not have heard about open data but it is the idea that data should be freely available to everyone to use and re-publish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. Its rationale is one of creating better understanding through knowledge sharing and a space for more enlightened and constructive debate, whilst also promoting more transparent and accountable practices. It can also enable new services and ways of working. When we talk of open data we generally mean non-personal data from public organisations.
Like the open source movement, open data practice is not geographically confined and the network effect of being part of a big global community allows ideas from different continents to be shared, projects developed and techniques embedded. IODC is a great forum for this to happen and even though it is a two day event it is preceded by three days of related workshops and conferences, all with specific focuses such as the role of civic tech, gender and representation, and global development.
Washington DC-headquartered Open Contracting Partnership seeks to make better, smarter and fairer government procurement and contracting using open data. This initiative has had notable successes such as helping the Ukrainian government save $1billion a year due to reduced corruption and increasing the quality of school meals in Colombia, whilst decreasing the cost. Open Contracting featured heavily within IODC as corruption in procurement is a big issue in many countries. Manchester-based Open Heroine, Hera Hussain from Open Contracting Partnership and Chayn also discussed the need for safe spaces in open data initiatives.
Data Standards Day at IODC was run by Open Data Services Co-operative, whose work lies in developing open data standards, building tools and working with publishers and users of open data to enable information from different organisations to be shared and used. These standards include the Open Contracting Data Standard for transparency in government contracting, the 360Giving Data Standard for charitable grant giving, the International Aid Transparency Initiative for aid funding and the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard for transparency in corporate ownership. Through the creation and use of data standards in these areas it is possible to map how money and resources flow from one organisation to another, to identify corruption, understand value for money and increase participation of citizens, civil society and business in these processes.
Since 2010 Open Data Manchester has been supporting the development and adoption of intelligent and responsible data use through advocacy, training and research. It works closely with Open Contracting Partnership and Open Data Services on a number of projects from procurement to grant giving and participated in the sessions around data standards and open contracting as well as co-ran a Future of Open Data workshop that took a critical look at the possible futures that IODC participants are trying to achieve.
If you want to find out more about Open Data Services Cooperative, Open Contracting Partnership and Open Data Manchester CIC pop-over for a chat, after all we are open.
About the author
Julian Tait is the founder of Open Data Manchester, based at The Federation. Open Data Manchester has been leading the way in open data practice in Manchester since 2010. It was set up as an advocacy group to encourage and share open data practice between public bodies, business and citizens alike.
The Initial Consultation
In late September 2018 - as part of our Federation Pledge Series - we undertook an initial consultation on tech displacement. Working with social impact consultancy Noisy Cricket to generate a clear view of our purpose and focus as an organisation, we then worked with members to understand the tech ethics issues and challenges they wished to collectively address.
As an increasingly pressing issue, defining tech displacement and providing a decision-making tool for use in creating and innovating in tech was seen as fundamental to our community of tech pioneers and social change-makers.
So, bringing together a working group of tech start-ups, educators, investors and academics, we asked ourselves some key questions regarding tech displacement and the scope of the issue we’re looking to better understand.
Our initial findings are summarised below, with key questions which will underpin the next stages of the project.
From Noisy Cricket’s initial research, we found the conversation around tech displacement is most often contextualised alongside the changes during both the agricultural and industrial revolution. In considering whether the tech revolution is creating or extracting value, understanding the historical precedent set across industry and society is essential.
That, as well as how the changes we’re seeing in the way we live and work is simply disrupting markets or displacing humanity. Offsetting impact is seen as key to balancing tech displacement, though with job displacement most often referenced, how this works for displacement of communities (the loss of high street banks due to banking apps for example) is lesser understood. This left us with some questions:
The two major considerations in tech displacement come down to the impact on human rights versus the potential for capital gain. Generating profit and reducing costs through tech innovation can impact on people’s security (affordable housing as a result of AirBnB’s growth in cities as a case in point) or sense of belonging, but the bigger picture requires us to ask questions of the consequences on individual choice.
In that context, tech innovation can both displace and replace. No one tech creation is wholly good or wholly bad, and both positive (e.g. education accessibility through Open University) and negative outcomes need to be taken into account.
The consequences of tech displacement are wide reaching and impact both the short and long-term. AI and robotics have the potential to immediately displace jobs in manufacturing and distribution for example, but healthinnovation is allowing for genetic testing, which enables people healthier and longer lives.
Many displacement issues intersect with others. Whilst innovation around transportation is improving mobility, through Uber for example, there are concerns around working conditions too. Communication innovation is also a complex issue. Social media has opened up conversation globally but removed in real life connection.
With both industries – email has long been recognised as impacting the postal service – and communities disrupted by tech, quite simply, the challenge boils down to who benefits and whether tech is being created for people or profit. Beyond the impact on the systems that society functions through, and the personal impact on people’s lives, culture is essential to consider also.
Opportunities and Challenges
Looking beyond the role which organisations and citizens play, we also need to look to governments and regulators, and their ability to influence systems, cultures and people. With tech innovation impacting both society and the economy, the power that lies with tech creators requires balance, but the questions remains how to achieve it.
Our Next Steps
We need your help in defining displacement and creating a decision-making tool, so here’s how you can get involved.
We need more information on the following.
We’ll be coming together towards the end of October to share the mapping of the insights we found. That, and co-creating a definition of the tech displacement, as well as a decision-making tool for tech organisations to use when innovating and creating tech.
We've recently launched our revised member’s manifesto. Collaboratively shaped by the Federation, it’s members and partners, it makes clear The Federations modus operandi as a living, breathing call to action for tech.
You can find out more about we intend to achieve a world in which we deliver people-empowered tech, and what our mission to a create an ethical digital society entails here
Getting Started On An Ethical Digital Society
The Friends of The Federation - who work, collaborate, learn and meet in our co-working space have shared their thoughts with us. We've learned from companies like global corporate ThoughtWorks, the NHS Research & Development team, start-up The Invent Hive and social enterprise FreshRB as well as those using our co-working floor. They have shared their thoughts on our Manifesto, and the part they are also making in progressing civic tech and social impact. We will be collecting further insights as our work progresses.
Unsurprisingly, our members proved themselves to be a petty conscientious bunch, with 91% feeling confident they considered the wider consequences of their organisation’s technological outputs. Culturally-speaking, technology-for-good is paramount across all of Federation House.
On current community giving activity they were a little less confident – 66% felt they were directly delivering social impact through their work – but with the priority being on opportunities for the organisation’s employees. That, and presenting socially-focused opportunities for learning and development.
No wonder then, that diversity and inclusion (80%) ranked so highly as an area to focus on. With different organisations within the building at different stages in their development, overcoming barriers related to age and gender were all flagged, as was enabling flexible working for teams.
Progressing industry codes of conduct were deemed the top priority (97%) however. Whilst privacy is top of everyone's minds in the wake of GDPR legislation coming into play, looking more broadly at tech regulations, accessibility and online safety are essential in building on the great work already done according to our forward-thinking membership.
Our Next Steps
With resource and time a challenge for all enterprises, the opportunity for shared learning was flagged repeatedly, as was collective action in first defining some of the challenges we’re aware of. Understanding what displacement is, for example, and how it impacts people and community’s lives – as defined by our survey respondents – is one of the next steps for The Federation.
In helping our members consider the wider systemic, cultural and personal impact of the tech we’re responsible for creating in enabling people’s lives, we’ll be building projects around progressing codes of conduct and better understanding how we can improve diversity and create inclusive workplaces, with Federation-aligned businesses setting a new standard for the wider industry to follow. Collective action is what we’ve been asked for, with tangible outputs and measurement of success key along the way, but we’ll need your help…
Working with Noisy Cricket - a social impact consultancy - in the next month, we’ll be starting consultation on two key focus areas. One, to better understand thinking around the displacement tech creates, and two to see where we should collectively focus our attention in progressing industry codes of conduct before we launch projects to collaboratively set the standards we believe tech should live and breathe by.
We’ll also be holding consultations on diversity and inclusion and community giving in the coming months, but in the meantime, sign up to the working group you’re most interested in, and we’ll be in touch.
Sign up here
We are delighted to bring a contemporary, state-of-the-art community podcast studio to Manchester, in collaboration with the fine folk at Podcast.co. The podcast space, which is already being used to record popular shows like Tech For Good, gives individuals and seasoned audio-storytellers alike the chance to use studio-grade equipment and high-end recording facilities to bring their ideas to life!
The new facility offers numerous options to create a superior-quality podcast, including the option to hire a producer to oversee work, while Podcast.co also offers consultancy and production services, plus distribution to all the major networks like iTunes. For smaller businesses such as start-ups and charities, podcasting offers an exceptional way to reach new global audiences and build a community.
Podcast.co founder James Mulvany said: “We are very excited about our partnership with the Co-op. It will benefit the business community in Manchester, and we can also look forward to hearing some new, fresh podcasts as more and more people start to populate the studio space.”
Emer Coleman, technology engagement lead at Co-op Digital, said: “We are delighted to be in a partnership with Podcast.co, to provide the community with access to such sophisticated equipment. Podcasting is such a powerful way of communicating and connecting individuals, businesses and communities and we're pleased to include that facility at The Federation."
How you can get involved!
If you are a podcaster and want to book a session to work your magic, get in touch. If you want to learn how to do something or have an idea, we're sure we can help make it happen.
To celebrate the launch of our new podcast space, we're hosting a Meetup event on 22nd August. Sign up now to be added to the guest list and to meet the Podcast.co team:
INNOVATEHER, NEW UK INITIATIVE TO EMPOWER GIRLS AND TACKLE INEQUALITY IN THE TECHNOLOGY WORKFORCE LAUNCHES IN MANCHESTER
National skills initiative InnovateHer, which is dedicated to giving girls aged 12-16 the skills, self-belief and confidence to pursue a career in technology, has launched across eight schools in Manchester.
With support from local partners Co-op Digital, Manchester City Council, Code ComputerLove, and Northcoders, the InnovateHer team will be delivering the eight-week after-school programme from September, working in areas across Greater Manchester.
InnovateHer aims to encourage greater equality and diversity in technical roles by enabling pupils to interact with leading employers and industry role models and learn new digital skills.
The initiative – which has reached around 200 girls to date – is an extension of the success Liverpool Girl Geeks has had in Liverpool City Region since its launch in 2013.
In partnership with national policy-makers, local government and industry leaders, InnovateHer is now one step closer to its goal of establishing a national network of school-based programmes to tackle the digital skills gap, which is currently estimated to cost the UK economy £63 billion in lost GDP.
“We want to bring our programme to every town and city in the North to empower more girls to enter and disrupt traditionally male-dominated industries." Jo Morphee, co-founder, InnovateHer
Jo Morfee, co-founder of InnovateHer, said: “We’ve seen some fantastic results from our work to date; girls have increased in confidence and self-belief and told us they want to work in areas like cyber security, games, and artificial intelligence.”
We want to bring our programme to every town and city in the North to empower more girls to enter and disrupt traditionally male-dominated industries. This is an exciting new chapter for us and we are keen to keep working with new and existing national partners like the Co-op to help make businesses and communities prosper.”
Gail Lyon, head of digital engagement at Co-op Digital said; “It’s exciting to be supporting this very important initiative. Gender balance is something we’re working hard to achieve within our own internal digital teams, so it’s ideal to be able to support this work to inspire girls in some of our own Co-op Academy schools.”
Manchester schools / areas currently involved in the InnovateHer initiative include:
- Co-op Academy Manchester, Higher Blackley, North Manchester
- Co-op Academy (formally MCMA) North Manchester
- Co-op Academy, Failsworth, Oldham
- Two schools in Gorton, south-east Manchester
- One school in Whalley Range, south-west Manchester
To get involved or find out more about InnovateHer click here
To bring the InnovateHer programme to your school or enquire about becoming a partner, click here
In Federation we spend lots of time thinking about the ethics and morality of technology and how we as a technology community can do things better. Traditional leadership frameworks such as Purposeful Leadership suggest that the purposeful leader pays attention to three things:
How can we be ethical leaders if we are not capable of adequately scrutinising what is underneath the bonnet of the technology we are rushing to adopt? How can business leaders square the race for efficiency and increased productivity with the impact on their workers?
And what moral sense should guide us when new and unknown challenges emerge which we have not had to think about before? In other words the leaders of today and tomorrow need to build a whole new ethical framework to help really think through these challenges.
For our next Federation Presents event we will be joined by Shannon Vallor author of Technology and the Virtues. Shannon will explore what skills and mindsets we need to develop to make sure that the new world we are creating (or which is being created around us) will be one that will provides us with purpose and meaning. Come and listen to her as she explains her framework for a virtue theory which can help us to “chart a wiser path among transformative technologies”. She’ll also discuss the concept of virtue, or moral virtue as being something we need to nurture to guide us in choosing between many possible futures and new and unintended consequences. Find out what wise and creative responses we need to cultivate to changes in technology and society.
Vallor has a birds eye view of the technology giants from her base in Silicon Valley where she is a philosopher/tech ethicist at Santa Clara University, researching the impact of new technologies on moral practices, habits, and virtues. Her view of the tech giants is stark according to a recent interview she gave to Silicon Angle headlined “Become ethical or society suffers”. But it’s not all doom and gloom as she does see some light at the end of the tunnel: “I’m cautiously optimistic that the technology developers and the public will find a path forward that works to everyone’s interest. My hope is that these forces will come together and create a future for us that we actually want to move into.”
Following her talk Shannon will be joined by a number of panellists including:
Dr Ella Fitzsimmons
Ella is a strategist and writer helping teams work out what they do through how they talk about it. Most recently, she has been freelancing for a renewable energy company and with Nobel Peace Prize winners. She is ex Government Digital Service and Co-op Digital. A former financial and advertising journalist, she has lived and worked in Europe, North America and Asia. She has a PhD about fashion, religion and online authority, and is excited about what happens when tech and humanities meet.
Simon Sear Chief Innovation Officer BJSS
Simon works with organisations to (re)design business models, services and products using technologies like AI, IoT and Blockchain. Despite the technology focus, he started work as a qualified psychologist and has a lifelong passion for people. He has a firm conviction that as society becomes more and more digitised, designing human centred products and services will become ever more important.
Sarah Drinkwater Director, Tech and Society Solutions Lab at Omidyar
Sarah’s a director in Omidyar Network’s new Tech and Society Solutions Lab working to invest in and co-create solutions to build responsibility into core business and maximise the positive impact of technology. Prior to joining Omidyar, Sarah headed up Campus, Google’s seven-storey space for entrepreneurs designed to democratise access into tech. During her time at Campus, startups in the community created over 4,200+ jobs and raised over 195M in funding.
Book your tickets here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-federation-presents-humanity-and-tech-with-shannon-vallor-and-guests-tickets-47770416602?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
The Nomad Clan street artist duo reveals inspiration for ‘Federation Bee’, part of the Bee in the City project.
Internationally-acclaimed street artists, The Nomad Clan reveals their inspiration between the 'Federation Bee' in conversation with Victoria Howlett, Senior Manager of The Federation. The Nomad Clan have been noted as 'One of street art’s finest female duos' by Widewalls magazine, the worlds largest street art online publication, as well as 'Street arts hottest UK talent' by Global Street Art blog and pegged as one of the top 5 female street artist in the world by The Guardian News Paper.
Watch the video here:
Bee in the City is a community art trail brought to Manchester by Wild in Art to make art accessible to all and bring all parts of the community together. Typical of the Nomad Clan's distinctive style, the art piece is a tribute to the rich history and heritage of Manchester and takes you on a journey unravelling tales of it's Roman beginnings, the 'Cottonopolis' textile industry, the 1800's original Scuttler gangs, the Suffragette movement, to the regeneration, creativity and diversity of the present day and the true northern spirit. The 'Federation Bee' sponsored by Co-op Digital, The Co-op Foundation and The Federation proudly celebrates our rich, local history and heritage whilst capturing a socio-economic commentary of the city and the colour palette becomes more vibrant as the design takes in Manchester’s music scene and other cultural highlights. This celebration of community empowerment and innovation is aligned to the ethical and co-operative values of The Federation and The Co-op themselves.
The Bee in the City community art trail is live around Manchester until 23rd September 2018. Join the community and get involved!
SOME WELCOME VISITORS TO FEDERATION
It’s been a busy few days in Federation which of course is just how we like it. We were really pleased to welcome Hazel Blears and Bill Liao last Wednesday. It was a great opportunity for us to give them some insight into what we are trying to achieve. We were joined for lunch by Jim Cooke The Co-op Foundation and Andrew Clarke from Omidyar Network two of our key sponsors along with Matt Atkinson Chief Membership Officer of the Co-op Group.
But really the stars of the show were all our lovely Federation Friends. Damien Payton Federation resident and founder of Hive Manchester readily admitted that Bills work in CoderDojo was his inspiration to set up Hive. Hive events focus on fun and interest – but challenge anyone who’s up for it. Hive welcomes everyone, from beginners to confident coders looking to power up their skills. Bill and Damiens discussion largely focused around the need to scale and the role that industry needs to play. Emails were exchanged! So looking forward to seeing what comes out of that.
Next up was Nik Seth from Holm Care who shared his background in Dementia Care and Social Care with Hazel and Bill and explained what he is trying to achieve with his startup. In a nutshell he is hoping to disrupt the Homecare market helping people to find affordable care quickly and easily. Nik found it extremely useful“Billshared his vast experience and taught me that I’d be more successful promoting blog posts on how to help the elderly on Google, rather than just ads for the page. And it was super useful that Hazel has offered to connect me with the Salford Institute of Dementia and it’s network. We also discussed the challenges of finding good care for the elderly, and how long it takes people”.
We’re lucky that we’ve had The Social Mobility Foundation with us since almost the beginning of our Federation journey. Hazel is a trustee so she knew lots about it but Sam shared with Bill some of the many amazing stories of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds they have helped in their academic and professional journeys. While many of those they have supported in the past have gone into careers such as law Bill suggested that it was timely that the Foundation were in Federation to encourage more of their cohorts to get into tech. Especially given the scale of automation happening in the legal and other professions.
Michelle Brook from Demsoc spent some time explaining their work which centres around involving citizens more in the decision-making processes of governments and public sector bodies. They then experiment around this working with local and national government as well as European Institutions. According to Michelle everyone was more or less on the same page: “We all agreed about the importance of finding ways to merge online and offline engagement. We know that online has the potential to have significant reach across geographic regions and for those who are time constrained. Buy equally not everyone is online and we need to build integration between the two. Also we were agreed on the need for greater roles for citizens and civil society in making decisions about local places and spaces. Bill had some great ideas for this, including the use of AR and smart phones to help citizens visualise potential changes that would result from planning decisions in their local area”.
And finally a visit to Northcoders where Founder James Brooke talked through their business model and plans for growth in the North. It was a really useful visit and thanks again to Hazel and Bill for sharing their time.
As part or our mission in Federation and with funding from Omidyar and The Co-op Foundation we’ve been supporting the amazing social enterprise Foodinate in their fight against local food poverty. And this week they have taken a giant step forward expanding their work out of the North and going nationwide. Their founder Caroline Stevenson explains: “Because of our new partnership with premium bar and restaurant group, The Alchemist we can now expand our fight against food poverty to communities nation wide. Now you can head to any of The Alchemist venues and enjoy either the Duck Gyoza or the Keralan Cauli Rice Bowl knowing that a hot, nourishing meal will be provided for a person in need in the exact same community as a result - at no extra cost to you. We're hoping that this will equate to at least 2,000 meals a month for those in need”
Located in busting UK city centres, The Alchemist is the place to be for the inventors of the world, combining an expertise in molecular mixology with theatre and immersive experiences at its core. The premium operator can be found across the UK including; London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Chester, Oxford and Nottingham.
Simon Potts, Managing Director of The Alchemist, said of the new partnership: "We love the work Foodinate do. We're the first national restaurant brand to partner with the cause and we're immensely proud to work alongside such a fantastic charitable organisation. It also allows our customers to be a part of the initiative and we look forward to seeing the difference we can together make to our local communities."
According to Matt Atkinson, Chief Membership Officer at the Co-op Group who are sponsors of The Federation, this is exactly the kind of expansion and growth in the social enterprise field that Federation was established to support: “It’s great to see Foodinate going from strength to strength like this and to have achieved a national footprint in such a short space of time is just brilliant. Foodinate's work on tackling poverty at a local level completely aligns with what the Co-op is doing in this space. We've just announced our new Food Share programme bringing a unique approach to getting food close to its use by date in the hands of local community groups in time for them to turn in into millions of nutrias meals. It’s also great to see Manchester leading the way and we are delighted that Foodinate share our co-operative values and a desire to work towards a more equitable and caring society”
We have some wonderful organisations at The Federation hear from one of our longest standing residents, Izzy from Social Mobility foundation on how her day goes...
I like to start the day with a swim. Luckily there’s a gym less than five minutes walk from The Federation (plus we get a discount for being located here) I’ll be in the office for 8am. I’m an early riser. I’ll grab a tea and a porridge in the kitchen, having a quick chat with anyone who’s around while I use the microwave and the hot water tap (hot water taps are pretty brilliant! No more waiting for a boiling kettle!) and have a nosy at the notice board.
By 9am I’ll running a workshop with my team in the meeting room. There are 4 of us now in the Manchester office, and we’re currently planning our events strategy for the North West. Social Mobility Foundation exists to support high achieving young people from low income or disadvantaged backgrounds. We work with them to access to the best universities and then ultimately into work via a five year programme. Weirdly, the digital and tech part of what we do is really under subscribed so we want to use this events programme to open up learnings and opportunities in this sector. My background is as an English teacher, so tech hasn’t been my forte really, but just by being in The Federation, I’ve learnt so much about the industry and how young people we work with can benefit from thinking about working in the tech sector. Our cohorts are naturally diverse, so we hope that we can also help improve diversity in the tech sector.
By 9am I’ll running a workshop with my team in the meeting room. There are 4 of us now in the Manchester office, and we’re currently planning our events strategy for the North West. Social Mobility Foundation exists to support high achieving young people from low income or disadvantaged backgrounds. We work with them to access to the best universities and then ultimately into work via a five year programme. Weirdly, the digital and tech part of what we do is really under subscribed so we want to use this events programme to open up learnings and opportunities in this sector.
My background is as an English teacher, so tech hasn’t been my forte really, but just by being in The Federation, I’ve learnt so much about the industry and how young people we work with can benefit from thinking about working in the tech sector. Our cohorts are naturally diverse, so we hope that we can also help improve diversity in the tech sector.
After the meeting, the rest of the team go back to our permanent desk space on the coworking floor, and I go to reception to meet one of our partner organisations. We like to show them around the space, because it’s really inspiring and we’re so proud to be here. They’re always impressed and it helps us give a good impression of what we do. It’s the same when we bring young people to the space who wouldn’t normally get to see this sort of environment. They always come away excited from being here. Hopefully this will encourage more of them into the tech sector. I drop off the partner organisation at one of the sofas to fill out some documents while I have a quick 1-1 with one of my team and then it’s lunch time.
Then its lunch in the kitchen at the picnic tables where I regularly strike up interesting conversations with other Federation residents. Sometimes a little gem of an idea might form which grows over time. Today, Ben from Lyon and Lyon was passing through and asked me for a catch up.
I’ve had a few people approach me to see how we can work together in this way since my colleagues spoke at a Federation show and tell a few weeks ago. The show and tell was a great way to meet all of the other residents and find out more about what they do. I always look forward to the socials. As an organisation, we have to connect with students, schools and universities, but also the industry, so it’s perfect having them on our doorstep.
For the rest of the afternoon I’ll catch up with the team and I might nip to Pioneer to have cup of tea with Caroline at Foodinate to see what they’re up to. I might take a phone call or two relaxing in the wicker baskets - and then I’ll start again tomorrow. We moved to Federation because Hazel Blears, one of our trustees, sits on The Coop board and she suggested it to us and we’ve been here now for 4 months. It’s ideal for us, the culture, the organisations who are here, the location - it’s perfect.
If you’re interested in taking space in Federation have a look at our co-working offer here. We’re also offering free space for tech organisations with a social purpose, apply for that, here.
We’re delighted with today’s announcement from Omidyar Network and Co-op Foundation that our work in Federation will be supported over the next two years. Both Omidyar Network and the Co-op Foundation share values that resonate deeply with what we are trying to achieve in The Federation.
Omidyar Network believe that by investing in people, through opportunity, they will create positive returns for themselves, their families, and the world at large. The Co-op Foundation want to invest in disadvantaged communities capacity to overcome social, economic or environmental challenges.
Many of those challenges are arising through the speed of adoption of technology and new inequalities that are arising as a result. In Federation we want to champion a much more ethical and inclusive digital economy where the benefits are shared much more widely. Over the next two years, with the support of Omidyar Network, the Co-op Foundation will be in a position to offer free co-working space for up to 60 individuals working for social enterprise start-ups. This offer includes desk spaces, meeting rooms and access to our event space. As well as access to the Federation team and wider Co-op colleagues who can help with advice and networking.
The funding will also go to support our events programme which will be curated to answer the question What Does A More Inclusive Digital Economy look like? Featuring a year round programme of talks we’ll be examining areas such as Surveillance Capitalism, Algorithmic Bias, Data, Privacy, The Gig Economy, as well as our comprehensive Tech For Good Live Programme and a focus on Civic Tech including Open Data Manchester and other players in the Civic Tech Scene. We’ll also be developing and sharing content and podcasts to make sure we reach as many people as possible.
We were delighted to recently host the Mayors Digital Summit in Federation and glad to hear that the Mayor recognises that this funding will further strengthen his ambition for Manchester. “I feel the digital economy should embrace collaboration and cooperation as much as it does competition. We need to build groups of people who can collaborate and through that collaboration achieve more together. This funding from Omidyar Network and The Co-op Foundation will provide so much more opportunity to do just this in Manchester. I look forward to seeing the growth in our tech co-operatives, community interest companies and social enterprises as well as a renewed focus on civic tech in the city including Open Data Manchester”
The funding has also been welcomed by the Steve Murrells, CEO of Co-op Group, the main sponsors of The Federation: "We are delighted that Omidyar Network and Co-op Foundation are supporting our work in The Federation. The opening of Federation House is evidence that social and economic revolutions, continue to be driven forward from Manchester and continue to have a strong Co-op influence. And that ‘influence’ is important because, as history has shown us, industrial revolutions and technological innovations have both good and bad sides. So innovation always needs checks and balances. And it needs something more too. It needs a culture and a mind-set that can guide its use so that we enhance life and not diminish it. In short, it needs an ethical approach and a guiding social conscience. That's what this support will enable us to do - raise important questions and provide real and practical support in our emergent tech community"
If you’ve established your tech business as a social enterprise (such as a community co-operative or community interest company) or are thinking of doing so and are interested in working with us at The Federation you can find out more about eligibility here (http://www.thefederation.coop/support)
James Brookes, Head of Projects, Thestartupfactory.tech
They help stratups grow from the ground up. At the moment we are working on two projects, a social media mentoring platform and a secure messaging channel.
The Federation brings a sense of collaboration and a sense of togetherness we haven't found in other co working spaces.
The pod is great, it took us 2 minutes to decide that we wanted one. We love the carpet, fixtures and people who work here. We love that it looks like a shed.
The rest of the space is full of great people, it's comfortable, the hanging baskets are great, the sofas are great. We moved into the city centre and the location is great. The transport is fantastic, the food is great around here and it's perfect for where we want to be.
We’ve come a long way since March when we started working with a dedicated team and passionate partners to plan the project and make the building habitable. The images below really do show the changes in the physical space itself, and we’re so proud of what we have now. A great mix of events and meeting spaces, a cafe and co-working floor. The suites were designed to house different sizes of organisations and they’ve all put their own stamp on them, as you can see in this blog post.
But we’ve also seen a growth in the types of people taking up residence in the space itself. Some of our tenants have come on that journey with us and we really can’t thank them enough for their patience and support along the way. Have a read of this blog by Kraken IM to get an idea if what that’s been like. Even though we’ve just launched, the majority of our suites and pods are already taken by a variety of digital businesses, all interested in exploring how we can be more cooperative and ethical as an industry.
The stories coming out of these businesses and organisations are too many to mention, with Apadmi and Silverchip’s award wins, Wool Digital’s first Birthday, and the graduates coming out of North Coders, Code your Future and The Hive’s courses to name just a few.
We’ve also been lucky enough for the wider community to embrace us, with diverse events happening in our events spaces. From Co-op and Design Mcr Service Jams, The Mayor's Digital Skills Committee, Tech for Good Live and Open Data Manchester moving in full time, Stir to Action Magazine issue launch, Drinkabout, Future everything…. and more.
It sounds like we’ve been really busy already. And we have. But we’ve got plenty more on the cards, including a bookable user research lab; Big Lottery Fund are moving in in the new year; and an events series looking at digital ethics.
Thanks so much to everyone who made it happen and supported our journey so far and those that continue to support us. The launch event really was a chance for us to celebrate how far we’ve come and thank everyone who’s been a part of our journey so far, but also to kick off the next phase for us in The Federation.
We were lucky to have Steve Murrells CEO of the Co-op Group and Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester speak at the event, so we’ll leave you with their words.
Steve Murrells said:
“From the outset we decided that we wanted to share this building with others, creating a physical space for responsible digital innovation, where good practice is shared and celebrated, and where digital pioneers can learn from each other.
“However, it’s much more than a space. The Federation will actively encourage businesses to invest and grow, using technology to deliver positive change, from connecting young people with opportunities, reaching out to schools to specifically address diversity in Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM), to providing subsidised access for a public events programme.
“The Federation is a cornerstone in the creation of a movement for social change and economic responsibility, helping to cement Manchester's well established reputation in the digital world. This is because of who we are and how we’re owned. We know that the world works better when we co-operate.”
He also wrote this interesting blog with his thoughts on cooperation and ethics in the digital space
Andy Burnham added:
“We have set out ambitious plans to become one of the top five leading digital cities in Europe in the Greater Manchester Strategy and we are determined to achieve this by working together with likeminded people.
“The smartest cities don’t just make use of the digital economy, but use digital to connect people, helping tackle things like homelessness. We need to be a truly smart city to connect all our citizens.”
The Federation is a space that brings together organisations, big and small, public and private [and,] by promoting collaboration and inclusion through digital, [we’re] building a better future for the people of Greater Manchester.”
You can also read more about our launch in Prolific North, Business Cloud and the MEN. And you can hear what Steve Foreshew-Cain, CEO of Coop Digital had to say about the launch in his update.
If you’re interested in joining us in a suite, in the co-working space or want to hire our events or meeting space get in touch. (Events and meeting rooms: Beena.firstname.lastname@example.org/ Co-working space and suites: Samuel.email@example.com)
By Ian Cornwell, Kraken IM
Back in January of this year (2017) our business (Kraken IM) was picked as one of the teams for the Ignite accelerator. Ignite 11 was based in Manchester and we are from the North East, so for three months we upped sticks and straddled the Pennines like a colossus.
Our home for the duration was to be The Federation and a “death mirror” Airbnb (a story for another time). Information about The Federation was remarkably scant at the time, Google had virtually nothing and street view yielded a building covered in scaffold and a closed road so it’s fair to say we didn’t know what to expect from our office space, but at least it was handy for the station.
Our first day at The Fed we discovered that we’d be sharing a floor with the Co-op digital team and we’d be taking over a corner of their office. It’s probably fair to say the building itself was more building site than office space at the time, with just floors five & six completed. To stretch the metaphor a bit though, we were three founders and a building site, so that seems equitable looking back.
We made ourselves at home on part of floor five, which was an amazing open plan space, with sanded floors and best of all, beanbags. For the first few days we hit a few snags, some of the desks didn’t have power and the firewall blocked access to our dev database but these were soon resolved and we got on with getting on.
For 12 weeks though, it’s probably fair to say we created havoc for the poor co-op digital team, drawing on their walls (oops), liberally sprinkling Haribo around the joint and stealing beanbags. Plus nine teams of giddy start-ups generally being rowdy probably wasn’t conducive to their work. I for one, am famously soft spoken for example. In spite of our best efforts we were never made to feel like we were not a part of the family, offers of help with our tech, invites to events and even buying us beers.
On top of this, the space was an amazing place to work and great place to start to build a business. During the time we were there we got to hear all about the plans, what the Co-op was trying to build and the passion and values of the team building it and even a few sneak peeks at the partially completed work.
Twelve weeks went by in a flash and before we knew it showcase day was upon us and we would soon be moving out. Showcase day meant we again, caused havoc, putting 100+ chairs on floor six and taking over yet another part of the building for the afternoon.
Then, that was that, Ignite was over as was our time at the Fed and we had to move on. That’s when the really cool stuff started to happen both for us and The Fed.
Over the months since we moved out we’ve been back to Manchester reasonably regularly both to visit clients and investors. If I’m in town and I have the chance, it’s great to see the team there and look at how the space has grown. One of our Ignite cohort is still resident in the co-working space so it’s a good excuse to catch up for a brew (either kind) as well.
Every time I visit it seems there is more great news, recognition in award nominations, another floor has opened or they have a new tenant. The last time I was there the cafe was about to open and they were dishing out free coffee for testing purposes and the launch was imminent. The big thing though has been watching the numbers and vibe of the space grow and now when I‘m there it definitely feels like a community where the co-op values shine through. In the months we’ve known The Fed it’s grown from two floors and a building site into a full blown hub for digital companies.
Kraken make software for engineering projects, it’s pretty esoteric and if you aren’t us, I can see how you *might* think it’s pretty boring. We’re really passionate about it though and we really do want to change the world with better engineering. When we lived in the Fed we had what we thought was a really good idea and a good market to go at. During our time there we refined that idea and also living in a space like that helped us to refine the things we cared about and stood for, which is easy to overlook.
Now Kraken IM is really starting to see the green shoots of our efforts, we’re getting traction on big projects, we’ve been nominated for our own awards, secured funding, approved to work on some of the UK’s most sensitive sites and now some of the largest companies in our sector are approaching us to see what we’re up to.
As I type this, The Federation is officially launching very soon and the last time I was there, it really did feel like the finished article, I know that Kraken has a long way to go still, we definitely aren’t the finished article. That said, one of the things we enjoyed most at our time on Ignite was the cohort effect and growing with the other teams, the Fed feels like it was one of our cohort, we grew up together and watching them kill it is awesome.
Fancy a nosy round? Give Sam a shout on firstname.lastname@example.org. We still have space on our co-working floor if you want to join.
The team have really had a vision when pulling this space together, but each organisation that works here is unique and we love it when they put their own stamp onto the building.
Our suites and co-working spaces have been occupied by organisations of all different shapes and sizes and it’s been exciting to see how they’ve all planned out and decorated their offices and studios in different ways.
There’s really starting to be a buzz about the place and with only two of our nine suites left, our huts completely full - it’s not surprising. Have a look at some of the spaces within the building, we love it.
If you’re interested in one of our final two suites or one of our co-working spaces, bob Sam an email on email@example.com
Now (most) of our events and meeting spaces are up and running, we're getting some great bookings. Some of these events are internal to the organisation who has booked them and include training events, exec meetings, launches, parties, internal conferences and workshops of all shapes and sizes.
Alongside that we have some interesting and relevant events booked in that are open to the public that we love and want to let you know about so you can join in. This week was the launch of the fifth "Design Manchester" A festival of design in various venues around the city. We were honored to host the partners breakfast and ongoing we've got plenty of their events booked in. Here are just a few public events that we're excited to host, come and join in:
14th & 21st October 9.30am - 4.30pm £10
Design Manchester & Co-op Digital: Service Design Jam
Join Co-op Digital and some of Manchester’s best service designers to learn about what service design is, and how you can use it to create useful, human centered services. A collaborative two day event that demonstrates techniques, and puts them into practice.
Get tickets here https://goo.gl/EKYD9a
16th October 6:30pm - 9:30pm Free
Design Manchester & Co-op Digital: Service Design & Manchester panel
A panel discussion on building capabilities in the city that are able to tackle Manchester specific issues. The discussion will centre around the question ‘What are the capabilities Manchester needs to design world-class commercial and public services for the 21st century?’
Register here https://goo.gl/1333xN
18th October 6:30pm - 9:30pm £9.90
Motion North Showcase 27
A quarterly meet up of Motion Designers, Animators & VFX Artists: with guest speakers James Sindle and Dean Robinson from London's Electric Theatre Collective and Ben Haworth from Flipbook showcase their work.
Get a ticket here: https://goo.gl/tEjhUA
18th October 6:30pm - 9:30pm FREE
Equal Experts: Expert Talks
Join Equal Experts as they have two talks on the theme of "Moving Towards Operability & Organising for Continuous Delivery"
Register here: https://goo.gl/hpFiqw
19th October 7:00pm - 9:00pm Free
A new leaf: The Nature of Manchester
From creative writing, to the design and science research that is proving why green space is good for us, in a dynamic and informal setting you are invited to come and hear perspectives from those who are passionate about green and outdoor social space in our city centre.
Register here: https://goo.gl/L6QSSN
20th October 6:00pm - 9:00pm Free
An informal monthly social event where anyone involved in tech start-ups can chat, share ideas, get inspired and relax at the end of the week.
Register Here: https://goo.gl/uWCJwN
26th October 6:30pm - 8:30pm Free
Future Everything & City Verve
We’ll explore how Tram journeys can be made better, safer and more efficient by technology and community engagement.
Register here https://goo.gl/BwGAtn
Hope to see you at some of them! If you want to enquire about booking events space, fill out our form here and we'll get right back to you.
This week, we welcome some new faces into The Federation. Don’t worry! There’s still space left if you want to join us in a dedicated office space or on our co-working floor.
Fay Schofield - Fay joins our co-working space from Brooke, a charity looking after working donkeys, horses and mules. She runs their social media and spends her time working from London and Manchester, so wanted somewhere to work that was more lively and less lonely than her flat.
Ben & Mat - Twins, Ben and Mat run creative consultancy Lyon & Lyon who are based in Sheffield. They also work in co-working space in London and we are now officially their Manchester home.
Catherine Heath - Catherine is a freelance tech and marketing blogger from Away with Words based in Manchester with a number of clients in the North West. As an advocate for women in tech, Catherine joined Federation because she wanted to be part of a community of like-minded individuals working in the creative, non-profit and tech industries.
Jo Kingston - is joining us from Thwaites Communications, a small but perfectly formed strategic communications agency with nationwide clients in the digital and STEM sectors. Thwaites has an office in Shoreditch, London - and now a Manchester base at The Federation. They work with clever people doing extraordinary things, to help them to make complex ideas, products and services accessible to everybody.
If you’d like to have a look at the spaces we have available, email Lisa or Sam for a tour and a chat.
We thought we’d have a little show and tell as a way of opening our events space officially internally and also to start to get to know each other better in the building.
There were a whopping 19 businesses and organisations who signed up to do a quick 5 minute intro into what they do. It was absolutely fantastic to see everyone together for the first time socially. Everyone here really does value that sense of community and ability to collaborate, work together and learn from each other
It really did hit home what a varied bunch of people and organisations we house at The Federation. From CIC’s to Co-ops, to social enterprises, charities and classic 'for profits'... but all with one thing in common, wanting to build a community and a better way of doing business digitally.
I’m sure there were a few sore heads the next day as a big bunch of us might have after-partied a little in our neighbourhood pub, the Pilcrow.
It went well, so there will be more! We’ll report back soon.
If you want to join our community and take up some space here at The Federation, email Sam, or if you want to use our events space fill out our enquiry form here.
Since we’ve made the shortlist for Prolific North’s Inspired Spaces 2017 (voting opens on Friday 13th October) we thought it timely to do an update on how we’ve been progressing our plans to build an open community of digital innovators based on the Co-op Group ethical values.
Since our last update we’ve been joined by some amazing friends and our private suites and pods have all but gone. (We’ve one small suite and one pod left if you are looking for some great private spaces)
And our flexible/perm desks are filling up quickly moving apace with the anticipated opening of our events space and Pioneer coffee shop by the end of September. The main event space is already taking bookings with further bookable spaces and meetings rooms coming on stream by end of November. If you wan’t to learn about why people are choosing to work in Federation here’s a lovely post from our friends in Northcoders
All in all we thought it a timely opportunity to invite folks to come and see for themselves or even better book in a free taster to see what it’s like to work in The Federation. Or do both take a tour then work at a desk free for the rest of the day. If that sounds appealing please email firstname.lastname@example.org to sort.
You know you wan’t to be in The Federation - the force is with us.
Workspaces in Manchester, Salford, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle appear on the list which will be whittled down to the Top 10 Inspired Spaces in the North by public vote next month.
We've been working here with Co-op for over a year now, part of the leading the way project. Working with the Co-op we are very aligned in terms of values.
So at ustwo, our mission is to create products that make a meaningful difference in people's lives.
I think the building, The Federation, is really interesting. So the plans, not just the studio space, but also the communal spaces is really great to see how you can get businesses and people networking and talking together and the public.
But, also it's like a really creative space so we talked to the designers who built the building and they've got lots of great ideas with us about how we can personalise our little pod and make it look particularly ustwo.
We've written before about what we are trying to achieve at The Federation (a new space for the Northern Tech Community) and things are moving apace so we thought it was time to update you on what’s been happening. We’ve had brilliant support from our design partners @sheilabirdgroup and they’ve made a short video about us. Take a look and listen to @ClaireBrai and @V_Howlett talk a bit more about our plans
We’re delighted to confirm that later this year Thoughtworks will be taking the fourth floor of Federation House and according to @philloneill they are not shy of an ambitious vision describing their move to Federation House as part of the next chapter in their Thoughtworks Manchester story: “Federation House means a lot more than simply an amazing and inclusive office space. Since our early conversations with the Co op, we've been excited at the chance to become part of a broader community which gives back to Manchester and helps to develop and evolve the technical communities in and around the North. This community space, which is focused on reducing the barriers to entry, will allow people from all walks of life to get involved in technology. We are working hard to make sure our office is going to be a safe and inclusive space for all. We want to bring together a mix of activists, artists and technologists and witness amazing ideas come to life and disrupt our own way of working”.
The first, second and third floor are well under way and as well as having 170 hot desks available in late May we have a number of private suites currently available. These vary in size from 354 sq ft, to 620 sq ft to 1,453 sq ft. so get in touch with @v_Howlett if you want to come and visit for a look around.
We're especially looking forward to our collaboration with Nomad Clan who will be working on the interior design of our coffee shop and some of the space in Federation. There's a vibrant street art scene in Manchester so we felt it was fitting that it form part of what we are trying to achieve. Joy and Hayley include a lot of historical references in their work so there is lots to inform them in this part of the city. For more information about our hot desks, suites or if you want to visit The Federation email email@example.com