Space4 is a co-working space for social enterprises and worker co-operatives in the digital tech sector.
Space4 is a co-working and events space that aims to support digital and tech start-ups, as well as co-operatives, small charities, freelancers and businesses using technology to make the world a fairer place. The space was opened in August 2017 by Outlandish, a worker-owned co-operative digital agency who invest their profits in social change. The aim was to create a “tech for good” workspace to boost employment and enhance Islington’s digital sector, while ensuring profits are retained in the local economy.
In 2019, Islington Council awarded Outlandish a new building to continue doing their work to help independent businesses. The idea is that co-ops will stay in Space4 for as long as it takes for them to grow and become independent, before moving out and making space for the new wave of digital workers interested in making social change. Space4 also hosts evening events and lunches for people to get to know each other, swap ideas, share skills and invite others in.
Outlandish founder Harry Robbins told Islington Gazette: “We all feel technology is an area with amazing potential to change the world. Unfortunately, it’s often the big companies which benefit from it.
“But there are a lot of real world problems and technology is out there to make people’s lives much better. We would rather developers spend their time on this. That’s our driving force.”
When coronavirus struck, Space4 moved its skills training and workshops online. This meant that as well as staying in touch with its existing community, it could also bring in a new audience from further afield.
Outlandish worked with another resident co-op, Jarrow Insights, to create a series of videos and webinars to support local independent businesses to start using digital tools to sell and market their goods and services online. The work was commissioned by Islington Council and shows how councils can invest to support local business resilience.
Tags Worker co-operatives
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Introduce a maximum pay ratio
Executive pay has become divorced from reality. A pay ratio will spread wealth and reduce inequality.
Expand the community and co-operative banking sector
Stakeholder banks can be mandated to serve the public interest or local communities rather than simply to maximise returns.
Start inclusive ownership funds
An economic heartbeat that transfers the ownership and control of businesses to workers and other key stakeholders.
Implement an employee right to own
Co-operatise existing businesses to accelerate new models of ownership and increase the volume of the co-operative sector in the UK.
Promote community wealth building
Support co-ops to thrive in their localities by anchoring them within place-based industrial and community wealth building strategies.
Create devolved ‘just transition’ funds
Government should devolve a proportion of its Green New Deal budget to support local just transition plans.
Launch a Co-operative Development Agency
A network of support and capacity building to develop and extend the capabilities of the co-operative movement.
Create affordable workspaces
Affordable workspaces are essential to the survival of independent businesses.
Turn RBS into a network of local banks
New banks would be owned in trust for the public benefit and mandated to lend only within their local area.
Create new sources of finance for co-ops
Create financial instruments and institutions tailored to the needs of the co-operative economy.