The Federation: a new space for the northern tech community

In October last year our Co-op Digital product teams moved out of Angel Square and down the road into The Federation, an old Co-op building on Balloon Street. Since then, our teams have been working on floors 5 and 6 but we’ve recently signed the lease to take over and transform the other floors too.

The Federation on Balloon Street, Manchester.

Now we’re working on our plans to create an open community of digital businesses and innovators in Manchester city centre. It’s great because the north has so much tech, digital and design talent. We’re opening up The Federation to attract businesses who share the Co-op’s ethical values: social responsibility, openness, honesty and caring for others.

Two people working at their computers and two people discussing something in the background inside Federation House

Kim Morley working and smiling at her computer in Federation House

A nod to the mothership

When they began working on the branding for our new home, our design partners Magnetic North delved into the Co-op archives for inspiration. They came across 6 commercial ships that were owned and operated by the Co-operative Wholesale Society in the late 1860s. One of the ships was called SS Federation and because our building is called Federation House it felt like serendipity.

It’s also fitting because a ‘federation’ is exactly what we’re trying to achieve: a group of organisations with a common interest working together. Our logo echoes the letter F that was proudly displayed on the ship’s mast.

A sense of community

So here’s what our plans look like so far.

The first 2 floors will be meeting rooms, events space and a coffee shop. In the spring we’ll be opening the second floor for community use. It’ll have desks and office space so that digital specialists can work, meet and share ideas. We’ll be launching the website in a few weeks to take bookings.

A tech firm will be using the the fourth floor and on the third floor there’ll be 3 larger spaces available for lease to ‘friends of The Federation’. We’re talking to interested companies and organisations right now.

Choosing friends of The Federation

If you’d like to be considered for one of the spaces on the third floor, your business will need to have similar values to the ones we have at the Co-op. We want to create a community that wants to work in the right way for the benefit of many. We’re still working out the criteria for how we’re going to choose who’ll share the space but our decisions will be based on the Co-op Ethical Decision Making Tool which asks:

  • what would our members think?
  • does it create social and commercial value for them?
  • what is the community impact?
  • would our members understand what we’ve done and why?

We’ll keep you posted on our progress as the building fills with talent from the north west. You you can follow The Federation on Twitter. And if you’d like to find out more, email me on

Emer Coleman
Technology engagement

7 thoughts on “The Federation: a new space for the northern tech community

  1. Manoj Ranaweera February 6, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    Great to see Manchester tech community growing from strength to strength as bigger brands starts to join in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alex February 8, 2017 / 10:51 am


    Out of interest. Is it owned by the co-op and have you spent the co-op’s money in setting this up? If so, what is your intention with the federation? Is it a for-profit venture to generate as return or a not-for-profit venture which covers its costs but has some other measure of success in terms of member/community benefit?


    Liked by 2 people

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