Partnerships Online history

The history of Partnerships Online goes back to my work with Partnership from 1978 to 1995, and then Communities Online. More recent history from summer 1997 to spring 1998 is summarised below in a note I prepared in March 1998 for Communities Online and our funder the Department of Trade and Industry.

David Wilcox

Work by David Wilcox summer 1997 - March 1998


Early history

I initiated the programme which led to UKCO in 1995, and brought the project to Aston Charities in 1997.

I acted as editor and/or acting director of the project until October 1997 accountable to Michael Mulquin as the chair and representative of Aston. Michael has been project director since October 1997.

In July 1997 I brought to Aston the results of work I had developed (with support from Michael and other in the steering group):

July-October 1997: fundraising, strategy, initiating programme

During this period I was operating as acting director and achieved the following (with the support of Michael and other members of the then steering group, and development team). Details were reported to the DTI for a meeting on October 22 and accepted by DTI.

Securing funding and founder partner

I wrote the funding proposal, and negotiated support totalling £100,00 in cash and kind from IBM.

Development strategy

I formulated - with Michael, the steering group and team - the UKCO development strategy which is now the basis for the project, covering:

Team recruitment

I assembled and brief a development team consisting of SCIP (technical), Ann Holmes (events), Drew Mackie (games and simulation)

Events and other network development

In implementing the strategy I worked on:

Ann Holmes then worked directly with Michael on an events strategy which was highly successful in engaging the commitment of both sponsors and practitioners.

I planned - with Michael - a European workshop leading to presentations at the first European community networking conference in July in Milan, and a strong role for UKCO in European community networking.

Contact and response point

I acted as the main contact point for UKCO, maintaining constant email and telephone support with the network, DTI and supporters. I provided computing and office facilities for this, complemented by support from SCIP.

Promotional material

I developed the key messages and promotional material which has been used successfully by UKCO at events and in discussion with potential sponsors.

Web and lists

I continued to facilitate mailing lists and develop the Web site in conjunction with SCIP.

Core programmes

I developed plans for UKCO core programmes: Digital Villages; public access resource centres; electronic democracy; supporting local organisations including voluntary sector; Europe.


I initiated discussion on development of the UKCO map with BT Labs, Newnet and the National Inventory, and recommended further work on this and the charter be undertaken by Claire Shearman working directly to Michael.

Organisational development

I briefed UKCO steering group members, and serviced meetings with Michael.

November - December 1997: handover, programme testing

In October I handed over direction of the project to Michael on part-time secondment from Aston, and my role shifted from initiating to supporting programme development and working on specific projects. By November Michael and Samantha Hellawell (on secondment from IBM) had taken over business planning and reporting to DTI. During this period it became evident that there were two focii for development:

We developed proposals for these complementary packages to be tested and evolved with:

This work culminated in events in Cambridge and York in December. The successful outcome of these events was strong commitment from a wide range of interests to the UKCO programme, and the basis on which to approach a range of other potential partners and sponsors in January.

My work during November and December included:

In addition I wrote the funding proposal which secured £5,000 of support from GPT, and a further £20,000 help in kind.

Within six months, from July to December, we were able to move from a communication-based project (Web, lists, publications) to a national campaign, network and support programme with backing from corporate sponsors and practitioners, and a skilled development team. This was a major achievement for all concerned, since we were both developing highly innovatory plans and projects, and gaining the commitment of a diverse range of interests.

Although I have, for the purposes of this report on my work, highlighted my own role in this, the development work was essentially a team effort. It was made possible by the powerful commitment of Michael in supporting and then taking over programmes I developed, and the financial and administrative support of Aston. In the latter period we had substantial input from Samantha Hellawell, and the resources of IBM.

January-February 1998: programme implementation through two organisations

During this period Michael was able to become full-time in his role as director owing to the generous continuing support of Aston, and Samantha Hellawell was seconded for a full two days a week to UKCO. This provided the opportunity to further re-allocate responsibilities and review the most effective means of developing the twin campaigning and development strands identified above.

During this period I have:

UKCO and Partnerships Online

Work over the past three months, since Michael became director, has clearly established the need for two complementary organisations:

Each will differ in their style of operation, business strategy, and partnership arrangements - while having the potential for both collaboration and independent action.

More About Partnerships Online and Partnerships Online projects

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