Technocratic to Democratic

Bringing together democratic business and policy

Read Stir to Action's new report based on interviews with democratic business members and advisors about their experience of working within ‘institutional strategies’, such as Community Wealth Building and the Co-operative Council Innovation Network, and their recommendations for the future. 

How do we reduce the gap between policy making and democratic business? Can we build more strategic partnerships across different sectors and bodies? Can we encourage policy makers and local government to prioritise the funding of cultural awareness, pre-start, and business support? Is it possible for the democratic business community to not be seen simply as research subjects and end-users of policy, but key partners in research, business development, and funding for the sector?

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Executive Summary

While it’s widely accepted there’s a significant gap between policy making and democratic business, it’s not always recognised that it’s undermining sector-wide ambitions for building a democratic economy. But can it change? Over the next two years we’re working on a new project (supported by the Friends Provident Foundation) to build effective relationships between democratic business and policy initiatives, encouraging political leaders, policymakers, and researchers to work with the democratic business sector as key partners in research, business development, and funding for the democratic economy.

This is an invitation for democratic business practitioners, policy initiatives, researchers, and local government to work together to ensure that any policy initiatives reflect the practical and strategic experience of those working in the sector, and that such policy changes or investment strategies do not only passively ‘enable’ but actively facilitate local and national partnerships to build more democratic business culture, skills, and partnerships in the UK. 

Project explainer

"Commitments to building more generative local economies and the acknowledgement of the role democratic businesses can have in achieving this are certainly welcome, however, more needs to be done to support those tasked with translating these policy aims into practical action."

James de le Vingne

Who's it for?

Democratic business practitioners

Foundations & grant givers

Local government officers & councillors

Researchers & policy specialists

Research Reports

1. Building democratic culture, skills, and partnerships in policy-led regions

Building on recent policy interest in the role of democratic business, the report aims to move beyond the limited focus on policy to address both the immediate deficit in cultural awareness and the business development gap in policy-led regions. We interviewed a group of democratic business members and advisors about their experience of working within ‘institutional strategies’, such as Community Wealth Building and in partnership with co-operative councils, and their recommendations for the future.

Published 13 September, 2021

Download the report

2. Translating policy into practice: local government & building partnerships

In recent years, local government has taken an active role in supporting democratic business through new policy and, in some cases, investing in democratic business infrastructure.
In Autumn 2021 we will interview those working in local government and elected positions about their role in supporting democratic business.

The report will be published Winter 2021.

Express Interest


We will be publishing a set of guides throughout the project.

How democratic businesses can work within institutional strategies
December 2021

How local government can be effective partners in supporting democratic business
March 2022

How to fund the democratic economy
May 2021

How to research the democratic economy
June 2022


Over the next two years we're creating residential events to bring together stakeholders.

Democratic Business and Institutional Strategies

October 2021

Philanthropy and the democratic economy

January 2022

Local Government

April 2022

New approaches to policy making for democratic business
June 2022

Workshops & Programmes

The workshops below are bookable by organisations or groups. Contact us on

Crash Course in Democratic Business

Building a Co-operative Development Pipeline

Community Anchors: A Co-operative Recovery



As an organisation we host a range of online and physical events to support this work.

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