Platform Four: a new workspace taps into Manchester’s give-back spirit

co-working, London, Manchester

Martin BryantMartin Bryant, May 3, 2017

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

Manchester isn’t exactly short of startup-focused workspaces these days, but they keep coming. Recent additions to the market like Headspace and Accelerate Places have now been joined Platform Four, a coworking space with a twist.

Situated next to Victoria Station, and with a gorgeous view out over the tracks as trains make their way in from Lancashire, Platform Four takes a social enterprise approach. For every seat it rents to a business, it will give one to a non-profit serving the local area, an early stage startup, or an experimental community-led idea.

This is the same ‘buy one, give one’ model that shoe retailer Toms made famous. ‘Urban agency’ 3space has launched Platform Four after first introducing this model in London space Keeton’s and Collett late last year.

3space started out six years ago, taking advantage of empty retail units to give space to creative and tech-based projects. As the retail sector embraced demand for short-term leases, 3space moved on to longer-term spaces and a coworking model.

Platform Four

Platform Four has a great view out over the city. Credit: Warren Kane Photography

Meaningful collaboration

Platform Four’s approach is about more than just doing something good for deserving causes. 3space founder Andrew Cribb says that in London the model has allowed for meaningful collaboration between businesses and non-profits.

“The collaboration works both ways,” Cribb says. Tech companies can benefit from non-profits’ kind of thinking, and vice-versa.

In the London space, Green Lab has free space, allowing startups and academics to work on urban growing technologies such as vertical farming. As Platform Four’s launch press release put it, “Concepts like this cannot afford to pay rent and require space to establish themselves, but the benefits are enormous for both the paying businesses and the local community.”

Meanwhile, charity Re-start Project, has helped people at Keeton’s and Collett fix their broken smartphones rather than just throw them away.

The ‘giving back’ culture

Platform Four isn’t 3space’s first experience of Manchester. For example, it had a short-term project on Mount Street last year aimed at the creative sector. Cribb expects the ‘Buy Give Work’ model to be a success in city. “If you look at places like Silicon Valley and Boulder, they have a ‘giving back’ culture. I see that more in Manchester than I do in London.”

He has a point. There’s a reason why tech-for-good is a key part of the city’s community, for example. Like much of the North, people in Manchester want to help each other and collaborate in a way that can sometimes seem elusive in the capital.

Platform Four is open now on Hunts Bank in Manchester city centre.

Featured image credit: Warren Kane Photography