Forget Old Street – this co-op is turning Finsbury Park into Islington’s ‘fair tech’ hub
PUBLISHED: 11:52 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:08 25 October 2017
The Silicon Roundabout, in the south of Islington, has become a world-renowned hub for tech companies. But over in Finsbury Park, Outlandish is staking a claim to be the most forward thinking of them all.
Founded by Harry Robbins in 2010 and based in Fonthill Road since 2014, he claims Outlandish is not driven by profit – as is mainly the case in Old Street. Instead, it wants to use tech to make the world a better place.
It has built websites and apps for charities and universities, for example. Things also get political: during this year’s general election, Outlandish developed schoolcuts.org.uk, a website about how the government’s cuts would impact state schools.
“We all feel technology is an area with amazing potential to change the world,” Harry said. “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.
“We really, really enjoy Finsbury Park. It’s got amazing vibrancy, really fun. And we can do more of the things we want to do because of the more affordable rent.”
No doubt to the approval of local MP Jeremy Corbyn, the co-operative also promotes a fair pay scale: “We have a 3:1 pay ratio,” Harry said, “where it’s 10:1 in most companies. So here, the top earner is on £100,000 and the lowest is our cleaner on £35,000. Keeping the ratio that low helps us grow.
“We also have total pay transparency: all financial information is open to everybody.”
Meanwhile, Outlandish is launching a new project tonight (Thu) which it hopes will put Finsbury Park on the map as a “fair tech hub” in the north of Islington.
Space4 is a shared workspace available to start-ups on a “pay what you can” basis, and to educate the new generation of digital workers interested in “creating social value rather than shareholder profits”.
Polly Robbins, behind the project, said: “Rising prices mean even co-working spaces are out of the reach of many small organisations and start-ups. Space4 builds on the co-operative model to keep costs low and benefits high.”
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