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Growing the New Economy: co-operative & social enterprise place-based innovation

Event Date: 12.02.2020 |Time: 9.00-16.15 |Location: The Queen Elizabeth Hall, West Street, Oldham, OL1 1NL |Categories: Events, Featured

This national convention brought together an exciting mix of ca. 250 key decision makers from local authorities, health and other local public institutions, leaders of co-operatives and social enterprises with funders and investors to explore how the social economy can play a much more central role in the economic and community wellbeing of places across the country.

Participants explored key learning and experience about what has worked in different places, and helped shape a future vision for place-based, co-operative and social enterprise innovation, supporting clear, viable alternatives to the traditional economic models and policies that have failed to serve people and communities in so many parts of the UK.

Drawing on the experience from the growing Community Wealth Building movement, the convention explored how co-operatives and social enterprises can support inclusive economic growth as part of a wider move to “reset the dial on local economic development”.

The event had a special focus on collaboration and knowledge sharing about new approaches to local economic development and organising local services based on social sourcing, i.e. public benefit partnerships between co-operatives and/or social enterprises and public authorities.

There was a mix of plenary sessions, interactive breakout sessions and table discussions, as well as an exhibition where delegates could network and find out more about some of the organisations supporting growth in the new economy.

The whole event wrapped up with a call to action on key things prioritised by those present to move this agenda forward.

Read the Convention Report describing key actions to take to grow the new economy here. Some amazing visual minutes were produced during the event, which you can see here. You can also view video clips of some of the speakers by clicking here, while vox pops with speakers and other delegates are available to watch here.


8.15 Registration, tea, coffee, exhibition and networking
9.00 Welcome and open spaces choices
9.15 Opening plenary – building the new economy: co-operatives and social enterprise in place.
Welcome address: 
Cllr Sean Fielding – Leader, Oldham Council
Panel Discussion
A lively discussion with thought leaders and practitioners about why and how we need to take a new approach to local economic development, and how we can harness the transformative power of co-operatives, social enterprises and community business.
Panel Chair: Jonathan Bland – MD Social Business International, co-ordinator E3M

  • Lord Victor Adebowale – CEO, Turning Point & Chair, Social Enterprise UK
  • Paul Gerrard – Policy & Campaigns Director, Co-op Group
  • Neil McInroy – Chief Executive, CLES
  • Carolyn Wilkins – CEO, Oldham Council
  • Karin Woodley – CEO, Cambridge House

10.30 End of session and move to breakouts

10.35 Breakouts – session one
Catalysing change to support social enterprise solutions – learning from E3M Alchemy

Risk sharing to support innovation
Social Enterprise Places
Transforming the economy of places from the bottom up: how to fund places trying to drive long term change?
Building from the bottom up
Keep it Local: lessons from Bradford
Open Space
11.20 Break – tea, coffee, exhibition and networking

11.45 Breakouts – session two
Social Sourcing through “public benefit partnerships”

Transforming the economy of places from the bottom up: how to fund places trying to drive long term change? (continued)
Building Co-operative and Social Enterprise Ecosystems
The practicalities of community wealth building – the role of co-operatives and social enterprises
Northern Roots – help shape this exciting project to create the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park
Social enterprises working together: how social enterprises can co-operate in places to improve their impact and achieve success.
Open Space
12.30 Lunch – exhibition and networking

13.30 Breakouts – session three
Social Investment in Place

One million owners
Responding to the Climate Emergency – the role of co-operatives and social enterprise in community energy
Social value as a driver of inclusive growth
Policy for Inclusive Growth – industrial strategy
Learning from Barcelona – live video link
Open Space
End of session and return to plenary

14.20 Table discussion
Session on learning from experiences shared and identification of key priorities for the future. (Tea and Coffee available during discussions)

15.15 Closing plenary – Moving forward: ideas into action
Discussion about priorities for the future, final voting and a call to action on what will really move things forward.
Panel Chair: Rachel Laurence – Director of Programmes & Practice, New Economics Foundation

  • Vidhya Alakeson – CEO, Power to Change
  • Sacha Bedding – CEO, The Wharton Trust
  • Peter Holbrook – CEO, Social Enterprise UK
  • Ed Mayo – CEO, Co-operatives UK
  • Fay Selvan – CEO, Big Life
  • Janette Williamson – Deputy Leader, Wirral Council

Closing Remarks: Jonathan Bland and Cllr Sean Fielding
16.15 End

On 11th February a smaller group of delegates visited the site of Oldham’s groundbreaking Northern Roots project and, in the evening, were joined by others at a drinks reception kindly hosted by the Co-operative Group at their impressive HQ, One Angel Square, Manchester.

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