Building a Social Enterprise at CoolTan Arts

Last summer, CoolTan Arts were lucky enough to have been invited to take part in an exciting digital learning research initiative in partnership with Tavistock Institute of Human Relations here in the UK, as well as in collaboration with an EU-wide consortium of research partners based in Italy, Spain, Belgium & Sweden.

The aim of the project was to develop an online educational interactive Role-Playing Game called Social PlaNet, for adults with previous experience of unemployment, so that they could learn about Social Enterprise – by playing the roles of Social Entrepreneurs as part of a collaborative virtual team. This was in order to ‘strengthen the co-operation between education and training, work and the social economy, non-profit and voluntary sectors, in an EU dimension, Social PlaNet to maximise impact on individuals and our game.‘

Our Digital Media tutor, Fiona Conn was selected as one of 3 UK facilitators for the game piloting and was fortunate to go to Rome last October to receive game facilitator training along with other facilitators from the 4 other European partner countries.

The Role Playing Game continued in development after this event, incorporating facilitator feedback – and the piloting phase was rolled out in Feb 2017.

Two teams of 6 volunteer game testers were enlisted at CoolTan Arts and were given the opportunity to experience this innovative approach to learning about Social Enterprise, and to provide valuable feedback on their experiences of playing  the game. All players were given the chance to take on leadership responsibilities, as well as collaborating together over a period of weekly sessions in order to come up with solutions to increasingly complex real-life business problems. In the end, the game allowed them to cumulatively put their ideas into the form of a structured sample business plan.

The experience was a hugely positive and resulted in some fantastic collaborative and creative ideas for community business ideas being generated within the two teams. Our volunteers also identified bugs and usablilty issues in the game, which can now be fed back to the Italian developer team ahead of the eventual public launch of the game.

Upon completion of the pilot run of the game, we are delighted to have been able to award all volunteers with  a certificate of attainment from Tavistock Institute in recognition of attaining the following skills: Social entrepreneurship, Business planning, Communications and market research, Teamwork, Software prototype usability testing.

We would like to extend a massive congratulations and thank you to all volunteers involved in the piloting experience for generously donating their time and for their patience in helping to identify issues in the current game prototype.

“I think the game will encourage and produce future social enterprises”

“It was a great experience which I am pleased to have had the opportunity to take part in.”

CTA would also like to thank Tavistock Institute and in particular lead researcher Heather Stradling for all their support throughout this project, and for giving CTA and our volunteers the opportunity to take part in such a unique and innovative educational pilot. We very much look forward to incorporating this unique educational platform in ways which will benefit our staff, tutors, volunteers and participants in the future.

Please contact if you have any queries or would like to discuss any aspect of  the project.

Please also see the website:


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