Fri 21 Apr 2023 2:49PM

The Co-op Hackathon

V Vica Public Seen by 177

Dear Open Co-op community - I'd like to invite you to this event. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the thread! I'm aware quite a few of you are working on relevant projects, so I hope this can be a way to showcase them to the broader co-op movement.

The Co-op Hackathon

Promoting digital innovation in the co-op movement is a major part of our strategy. We want to amplify and increase collaboration around tech – how we develop it, how we share it, how it empowers co-ops across our movement. 

The Co-op Hackathon takes place on 19 and 20 October 2023 in London. It will bring together tech co-operators to collaboratively develop digital solutions for the UK co-op movement and beyond. 

The Hackathon has three parts: 

  • 19 October, 6-8pm: Event launch, initial project pitches and networking 

  • 20 October, 9am-5pm: Co-op Hackathon  

  • 20 October, 6-8pm: Presentation of projects developed during the day 

The Co-op Hackathon is being delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with The Co-operative Bank – supporting fair and ethical business together.

Ways to get involved 

We’re inviting anyone with a passion for collaborative tech to get involved – you can do this in different ways: 

1. Submit an idea, project or product to develop

Are you working on an inspiring tech or digital idea, project or product for a co-op or for the co-op movement? Submit it to us for the Co-op Hackathon. We will shortlist projects to collaborate on during the Hackathon and one could be yours! 

Examples of projects we’d like to see: 

  • Platform co-ops 

  • Community tech projects for co-ops 

  • Software or digital infrastructure for the co-op movement and beyond 

  • Protocols/standards/licences for the co-op movement 

Please submit your proposal by midnight Wednesday 20 September 2023. Selected teams will get the chance to present their proposal at the launch event and will be promoted in the build-up to the event. We have a limited number of bursaries for the people working on shortlisted projects – up to £150 towards the cost of travel and accommodation. Please indicate on the form if you'd like to be considered.

2. Contribute your skills, experience or expertise to a project

This is a great opportunity to contribute your skills and expertise to some inspiring ideas – and meet the people behind them.

Do you have digital skills or expertise you can share? We particularly welcome developers, data scientists, designers, project managers, etc. But if your skills are from a different field, there are lots of ways to contribute. Register to take part as a contributor.

3. Attend the presentations

If you aren’t able to join the full Hackathon, there are two evening events (6-8pm on 19 and 20 October). Here you will learn about the inspiring projects we'll be collaborating on and meet the teams working on them. Register to attend one or both evening events.

Where is the event taking place?

The Co-op Hackathon will take place on 19 and 20 October at The Foundry, London, SE11 5RR.


Terry Tyldesley Mon 18 Sep 2023 10:03AM

Hi everyone I am working with Vica on the Co-op Hackathon - new dates 19 and 20 October, in London. A reminder that the deadline for proposals is this week Wednesday at midnight. General registration continues until 18 October.

We have some great submissions and registrations already, and would welcome more from people here. Some travel bursaries are available for shortlisted projects.



Vica Thu 7 Sep 2023 2:40PM

Hi all, we have a new date for the Hackathon and have changed the aim of the event a bit - I have updated the event invitation above with the new info. The idea is to create a space to support tech & digital initiative for or from within the co-op movement. There are many ways to take part, but please note that if you would like to submit an idea, rather than just attend as a participant, the deadline for that is 20 September. Hope to see some of you there!


Hugh Barnard Thu 27 Apr 2023 3:44PM

Oh, here's the manifest, plenty of holes, questions and things that probably don't work.


Hugh Barnard Thu 27 Apr 2023 3:40PM

I can't come to the hack day, due to be somewhere else, but have some (at least 'two', ha) ideas, that are probably coop 'friendly'. I'll try and get to the Thursday session. Meanwhile, one is spin off from this: https://www.horizon.ac.uk/working-with-the-mema-3-0-project/ and the other, more of a thought experiment at the moment, but a couple of local people are interested is this: https://nifis.uk/

I'll probably partially bootstrap Nifis with a Raspberry Pi Jam in the autumn, probably in Stratford using space in one of the numerous non-profits. So it'll start out as tech, but my ambition is much more like this https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maison_des_jeunes_et_de_la_culture


Billy Smith Fri 28 Apr 2023 12:22PM

@Vica TY for the reply. :D

Points 1, 2, & 3, answer my questions. :D TY :D

Point 4 is great. :D

One issue that i am facing is finding the right people to work with to create infrastructure co-operatives.

This looks to be a good start. :D


Danyl Strype Thu 27 Apr 2023 8:43AM


We see this as an opportunity to bring together people that are interested in using tech to strengthen the co-op movement

Can I suggest putting in place T&Cs that copyright in all code written at the hackathon remains property of the person who wrote it, but that it must be released under a Free Code license approved by either the Free Software Foundation or the Open Source Initiative?


Danyl Strype Thu 27 Apr 2023 8:38AM


we don't currently have additional funding to support these initiatives

Fair enough. This might be out of scope for this discussion, but for the record...

Software requires hours of specialist labour to develop and maintain. If co-ops want Free Code software designed for the specific needs of co-ops, at a range of scales, we're going to need to come up with systems for funding both initial development and ongoing maintenance of co-op software. Fortunately for us, much of the initial development work can be done by customizing off-the-shelf Free Code, which speeds up development and reduces costs. But all of this needs maintenance, both the customizations and the upstream software it depends on. If we want to stop outsourcing the maintenance of the software we depend on to corporate datafarms (FarceBook, Goggle, hOracle, etc) - and allowing them to determine how that software works for their benefit rather than ours - we need to come up with ways of aggregating many small contributions from co-ops using the software into funding pools that can be used to pay developers (ideally working in tech co-ops and platform co-ops).


Graham Wed 26 Apr 2023 1:18PM

@Vica Thanks for taking the time to respond. Most helpful.


Vica Tue 25 Apr 2023 3:59PM

Thanks Oli for the prompt, as I wasn't getting notifications from the comments. If anyone else has questions please @ me so I'm sure I don't miss them.

Responses below.

@Billy Smith apologies for not replying to your email. I will by the end of tomorrow (sorry a lot of competing deadlines at the moment).

I'll respond to some of your queries here in case they are useful for others.

  1. Do you know what the turn-around time will be for people applying to the event?

    There is no pre-selection process to attend, if that's what you are asking?

    We might be filtering some of the ideas people are proposing, just to make sure they are responding to the challenges we have proposed for the event. We are doing that on a case-to-case basis.

  2. What's the overall schedule?

    For now this is the set schedule, but we will be providing more detail next week (registration time, breaks, etc). Generally, however, the idea of the Hackathon is that we hold a collaborative space where people self-organise around projects. So on the 12th there will not be a set agenda with speakers for example. We will have a few speakers TBC on the 11th.

    Thursday 11 May

    • 6-8pm: Pre-hackathon meet and greet. Teams who have submitted an idea will be asked to present it to the audience, followed by the chance to meet and chat with other teams

    Friday 12 May

    • 9am-5pm: Teams will spend the day developing their ideas. They’ll also work towards a presentation to give at the end of the day

    • 6-8pm: Teams will present their work and explain what their next steps will be.  

  3. Do we have Terms and Conditions?

    No we don't. We see this as an opportunity to bring together people that are interested in using tech to strengthen the co-op movement. The idea is not to steal ideas from others, but rather to provide a space to showcase what is already being built or thought of within the movement. I hope this reassures you, but do email me if there a specific points you'd like me to address.

    Responding @Danyl Strype

  4. Yes, absolutely, we are aware that the negative aspect of a Hackathon is that it is only a day (or usually a bit more). So we see this as the start of a process. Mainly to gather people around ideas and start working on them together. The next step will be the Awards at Congress, which is Co-operatives UK's main annual event. The aim of that is to showcase the best 3 ideas (judged by an expert panel) to the wider movement and galvanise interest around them. Based on the results of that, Co-operatives UK will be looking into how to best support these ideas. Unfortunately, we don't currently have additional funding to support these initiatives, but we hope that this can be a first step towards supporting them further. It is part of Co-operatives UK's strategy to enable tech & digital in the movement, and this is one of our first steps in trying to involve the co-op/tech community in this process.

Responding to @Graham

5.. Can a team submit an idea for the awards if they do not attend the Hackathon?

Yes, attending the hackathon is not a precondition to participating in the Awards. However, some of the panellists will be present at the Hackathon, so it is an opportunity for them to learn more about the project and meet some of the team, so attending the Hackathon is advisable. But the panel will be judging the proposals based on the slide deck, and not all panelists will be present at the Hackathon, so don't worry if you can't attend.


Oli SB Tue 25 Apr 2023 9:11AM

...a few questions for you below @Vica - if you have the answers?


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