Edgeryders Knowledge Integration Programme

The idea is to teach each other to develop locally sustainable businesses: “Participating EKIP initiatives [in the UK, Germany, Poland and Italy] have developed grassroots responses to local economic and social challenges, and are building sustainable business models based on their particular insights. Common factors include a strong engagement with information communication technologies, facilitation of peer-learning and co-working methodologies, flexibility to specific local conditions, and structural independence from large scale institutions.”.


EKIP facilitates local centres for innovation and co-working to learn from each other. It brings together a network of participating centres (nodes) located in the UK, Germany, Italy and Poland and enable experts from across the EU to visit nodes and share their insights. Critically, the network puts in place a rigorous but light-touch mechanism for documenting knowledge exchanges, which will be synthesised into a publication.

EKIP objectives:

  • Exchange knowledge, skills and approaches
  • Build capabilities in local nodes.
  • Increase opportunity for exchange of tacit knowledge
  • Integrate awareness of emerging technologies and practices.
  • Build transnational network capacity

Participating EKIP initiative have developed grassroots responses to local economic and social challenges, and are building sustainable business models based on their particular insights. Common factors include a strong engagement with information communication technologies, facilitation of peer-learning and co-working methodologies, flexibility to specific local conditions, and structural independence from large scale institutions.

EKIP Nodes:

Established, independent, constituted nonprofit organisations working in communities. These nodes provide technological and physical facilities, locations, contexts and problem-spaces with which visiting experts will engage.

  • Access Space Network, Sheffield, UK
  • Hackerspace Warsaw, PL
  • Supermarkt, Berlin, DE
  • Casa Netural, Matera, IT

Why is your idea innovative?

EKIP’s engages with emerging technologies and practices. Centres include advanced manufacturing, media production, and information communications technologies, and participating experts have strong engagement with these. It crosses the boundaries of academic disciplines, taking on a practice-based approach.

EKIP engages holistically with local challenges and priorities, and includes centres which address diverse, interconnected agendas around local regeneration, digital inclusion, capacity building, enterprise incubation, education, technology and the arts. Particularly innovative is EKIP’s engagement with peer learning methodologies for knowledge transfer, which are manifest throughout the project at individual, organisational, community and network scales.

Examples of innovative practices supported by EKIP nodes include:

  • Cultural Commons Collecting Society (C3S) an alternative to Germany's dominant state collecting society (GEMA).
  • Pimoroni, which has used lasercutting and crowdfunding to build a thriving agile manufacturing enterprise in just 16 weeks.
  • Open Source City Juba, Media & Makers Juba, two major conferences on open data, with South Sudan's new capital Juba as a showcase.
  • Free Culture Incubator, masterclasses and expert meetings resulting in projects and initiatives around free culture business models.
  • Grow Your Own Media Lab – a publication which seeded Metareciclagem, an influential network of 97 do-it-yourself technology centres across Brazil.

How will your idea have an impact? How will you measure your impact? Please explain how your idea will have an impact on helping target people/groups move towards work or into new types of work.

EKIP’s initial target group is the communities of practice which make use of each of the four core nodes. These are people situated in local communities in Sheffield, Berlin, Matera and Warsaw. Visiting experts will bring new skills and approaches to those communities, and will learn from local expertise. The project’s documentation process will disseminate insights throughout the network.

  • 12 expert knowledge integration visits in the first phase.
  • 4 Nodes networked
  • 4 knowledge integration visits by node representatives.
  • Invitations issued by host nodes and applications submitted for knowledge integration exchanges by citizen experts will be archived.
  • Reports on each knowledge integration exchange, generated by host nodes and experts will be archived.
  • Reports will be synthesised into a publication, supplemented by input from external evaluators.
  • Publication produced and disseminated.

The initial phase will establish local cohorts of peer-support for enterprise incubation.

  • 4-8 incubatees identified at each node.

At each EKIP node contacts with local academic institutions will be pursued to provide opportunities for researchers to get involved.

  • Academic researchers will be engaged to provide external evaluation of the project and to produce a report.

At what scale will your idea operate initially and how do you think it can be implemented in another EU member state in the future?

EKIP will bring an international dimension to local challenges. Conceived as a network of practice right from the start, the initial phase of the project will simply involve knowledge integration exchanges, evaluation and a publication. There will be 4 networked nodes, 12 knowledge integration exchanges, and one publication.

As this action takes place, EKIP will put in place resources to support cohorts of enterprising individuals at each local node that will engage in local mutual support and development of enterprises, social enterprises or sustainable social projects, assisted by ongoing business mentoring and facilitated group “hack sessions” to solve problems for each enterprise.

Cohorts will include diverse, complimentary skills, and will be chosen for their potential to provide meaningful mutual support. We envisage that 4-8 participants will be engaged in the program at each node. Participation in the followup incubation phase will not be finalised until resources are identified to support the program.

How do you think your idea could be sustained over the next five years?

EKIP proposes that regeneration of communities and economies is best achieved through self-help and peer-learning methodologies. The initial phase of the program, described here, involves knowledge integration through expert exchanges. This will lead to the consolidation of cohorts of participants at local centres.

The opportunity is to facilitate cohorts to network with each other between local centres, help, support and (as functioning enterprises emerge) trade with each other. While inexpensive for the scale of its ambitions, this program is not free. Facilitation of the network and provision of suitably equipped working contexts is key. EKIP may do this through:

  • Seeking a large scale institutional lead to support a network bid for structural funds.
  • Seeking academic partnership to bid for research funds.
  • Crowd-fund specific actions, such as product development and knowledge integration exchanges.
  • Developing relationships with local strategic players. Visiting experts may add significant value by helping to broker these relationships.
  • Develop locally appropriate models for sustainable co-working spaces, drawing on the expertise of the EKIP network. We suspect that income from pop-up business incubators, located in rent-free redundant retail spaces may finance expenses associated with provision of facilities.

What are the most important things you need to have in place to make your idea happen?

EKIP has in place:

  • Physical contexts to host knowledge integration exchanges that bring local participants into contact with visiting experts, in which emerging technologies and practices can be explored.
  • Local nodes, that are established independent nonprofit organisations with aligned interests and objectives.
  • Skills and experience to support innovation and co-working practices.
  • Skills and experience to coordinate and manage an international project.
  • Strong interest from researchers who may add value to the insights gained.

For its first phase EKIP requires:

  • Local capacity to host expert visitors and maximise the benefits of knowledge integration exchanges.
  • Commitment from researchers to engage with, and independently evaluate EKIP.

For later phases EKIP requires:

  • Sufficient organisational capacity over time to test the potentials of enterprise incubation peer support in different contexts.
  • Support to develop the EKIP network further, particularly with regard to stable resourcing to allow the network to grow and thrive.

€20000 will be allocated:

  • €2000: One network meeting (4 node representatives).
  • €12000: 12 Knowledge integration exchanges undertaken by engaged experts.
  • €4000: Knowledge integration exchanges undertaken by node representatives.
  • €2000 Management, coordination and publication.
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