Tech for good advocates can apply for funded workspace at The Federation

Earlier today, The Federation announced that the Co-op Foundation, has been given £700,000 of funding from Omidyar Network, an organisation that invests in entrepreneurs committed to advancing social good.

At The Federation, Co-op Digital already works alongside organisations and individuals who share our Co-op values but thanks to the funding, there are now 60 workspaces that like-minded tech entrepreneurs can apply for. 

You can apply for a workspace and read more about the funding over on the Federation site.

The funding will also support Federation’s events programme. Many of the events will be themed around how we create a more inclusive digital economy in the UK. Talks and workshops will look at the impact of technology on broader social issues such as loneliness, inclusive participation and the right to privacy.

Sign up to the Federation newsletter to stay up to date.

Co-op Digital team

The Federation is officially open

The Federation was opened by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham last night.

Photograph of Mayor Andy Burnham on stage speaking at Th Federation launch

We first shared our plans for The Federation back in February and since June, the building has been gradually filling up with a community of digital businesses and innovators from the north west. Federation Manager Victoria Howlett showed us around the co-working floors in the summer, but Tuesday evening marked the official launch.

Photograph of technology engagement thought leader Emer Coleman speaking on stage alongside Federation manager Victoria Howlet.
Opening The Federation wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and vision of Federation Manager Victoria Howlett and Technology Engagement Advisor Emer Coleman

The Mayor has been supportive of The Federation’s plans to bring co-operative values to the development of the digital economy right from the start.

Last night he talked about his commitment to making Manchester a ‘smart’ city – a city that uses digital expertise to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both government services and citizen welfare.

He said: “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.”

Our values at The Federation align well with Mr Burnham’s vision for Greater Manchester because, as he said: “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.”

Photograph of some of the community at the launch party.

Here’s to a thriving tech, digital and design community in the north. One which shares the Co-op’s ethical values: social responsibility, openness, honesty and caring for others.

Photograph of specially made Federation beer in bottle that was served at the launch.

You can follow The Federation on Twitter.

Steve Foreshew-Cain
Group Digital Director

Steve Foreshew-Cain: a Member Council event, an award win and Food colleagues come to Federation

(Transcript) Steve Foreshew-Cain: Hello and welcome to this week’s Co-op Digital update. It’s been a really big week this week.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of joining our National Members Council to share with them the work that we’ve been doing in Co-op Digital over the last year. Catherine Brien was with me and she talked about our thoughts on data and the work that we’re doing to become trusted with our members’ data.

And a big thank you to Mary McGuigan who presented with us as well. She’s a council member who was presenting on her experiences working with our teams as a member of the Digital Working Group.

Catherine’s had a busy week as she was also representing the Co-op at the Manchester Digital Summit. Now this was a summit that was arranged by the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, and was a really great opportunity for us to get the chance to share our thoughts and our experiences about how to connect people and businesses and their communities.

On Wednesday we welcomed some of the food store managers to Federation House. They shared some brilliant ideas with the team who were working on the Leading the Way project so thanks to them. And a big thanks to Steve who took some time out of his busy diary to sit with Kim Morley as she demonstrated some of the exciting work that the Leading the Way team have been working on.

A massive well done to the team working together with our colleagues in Funeralcare to transform their business. I’m not sure if you’re aware but they won an award last week. The Digital Leaders award for the best large enterprise project. That’s a brilliant achievement for Robert, Andy, Carl and the whole team and very well deserved.

And finally a hello to some of our new starters. We welcome Sophie Benger to the Digital Engagement Team where she’ll be helping our data science team explain some of their work. We also welcome Adam Westbrook who’s joined the Engineering team this week as a platform engineer.

Well that’s about it for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter.

See you next week.

Steve Foreshew-Cain
Digital Chief Operating Officer

The Federation: our plans are progressing

Victoria: Hi, I’m Victoria Howlett and I’m the Federation Manager over at Federation House as part of the Co-op Digital team.

The Federation is a digital community hub. The Co-op Digital team and Co-op have put this together and it’s based on the Co-op’s ethical values.

Federation is going to be home to many different tech and digital businesses. It’s going to have a co-working floor with private offices on that floor which seat from 6 to 8 people. We’re also going to have hot-desking options on that floor so permanent desks, flexible desks, that will be available to book through the website.

We’ve been extremely lucky to be in contact with two wonderful ladies of Nomad Clan who are the artists and you’ll see some fantastic work that they’ve done throughout the north of England. We’ve ask them to look at the history of Manchester way beyond it being a Roman city and they’ve been to the archives of the Co-op and we’re going to combine that to create something really unique and unusual as it will be the first entrance point for the building, so that’s really exciting.

Roughly we’ll have 12, 13 private suites ranging from 3,000 square feet down to 300 square feet, so there’s a lot of difference there, and so were able to be home for lots of different companies and startup businesses.

It’s really exciting actually that we’re welcoming Thought Works into the Federation and they’re taking the whole of the fourth floor which is really exciting.

One thing that Co-op wanted to ensure is that they’re here to nurture, help nurture, businesses so that businesses can grow. This is really going to feel like home and for a lot of businesses and we think that that’s essential for businesses to be comfortable relaxed and grow.

So we’ve gone very neutral pastel colours, very relaxed environment, there’s Chesterfield sofas that are in yellow, there’s hanging wicker baskets that people can go and get some time out in, there’s picnic benches that will be around in the kitchen area just to relax on and then again, we’ll have the spiral staircase that will lead down to the coffee shop floor, so nobody feels closed off. We really do want everyone to feel like they can have a wander around and see see what’s going on and communicate really well with each other.

So very, very excited about the future Federation. Personally, I see Federation just going to go from strength to strength and will be around for a long time helping businesses in Manchester.

Victoria Howlett
Federation Manager

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

The first product teams move into Federation

We’ve mentioned before that we’ve been redeveloping one of the older Co-op buildings in the centre of Manchester in partnership with NOMA. Today the first product teams have moved into the top two floors of The Federation at Federation House. Its a great space for our teams to talk, code and draw together.   

Mike Bracken explains more about the move in this short video.

Picture of the interior of Federation House

Picture of the interior of Federation House