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Ketso set to expand following award win and social enterprise success

09 Sep 2013

The Royal Town Planning Institute North West has awarded Dr. Joanne Tippett a commendation for positive community engagement for her work with Ketso, the innovative product she created to support collaboration and creative group work.

Dr Tippett
Dr Tippett

Ketso is the first spin-out founded by a female entrepreneur from The University of Manchester's humanities faculty, as well as being the first spin-out from research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In the four years since the company was launched, the hands-on toolkit has proved a huge success with organisations, ranging from the Scottish Government Equality and Diversity team, to MerseyCare NHS, to local authorities and over half of the UK's universities.
Described as a 'workshop in a bag', Ketso provides a range of tools for participants that are designed to ease the exchange of ideas and build a clear picture of the group's thinking on a particular issue. These include coloured shapes that can be built into 'thought-trees' and free workshop plans, making creative engagement available to more people without the need for expensive facilitators.
First devised in 1996 in Southern Africa, Joanne helped villagers in Lesotho work together to plan a better future for their area, and the social aspect remains a key pillar of the business. The supply chain for Ketso is geared towards helping disadvantaged people and makes use of an ethical trading facility in Kolkata, a fair trade workshop in Bangladesh and Paperworks, a sheltered workshop in Leeds.
After joining the University of Manchester in 2000, Joanne developed Ketso in a PhD with the Mersey Basin Campaign, connecting with community members and stakeholders to develop a plan that led to the £1.7 million regeneration of Moston Vale, a former landfill site in Manchester, via the £59 million Newlands programme.
Dr Tippett approached UMIP, the University of Manchester's agent for IP (intellectual property) commercialisation, for ideas on how to move the product forward. She received advice, funding support and has made significant progress in her mission to develop Ketso as a social business. Ketso is now set for further expansion and is looking to grow its sales and marketing team this autumn.
Joanne Tippett, inventor and founder of Ketso, said: “To receive the support of the RTPI North West for Ketso is the culmination of many years of local and international development of this product. I developed Ketso to give participants a voice, and we are finding that it greatly increases creativity and commitment.”
Richard Sullivan, Head of Pay and Rewards at Tesco, praised Ketso for its ability to facilitate collaboration in a practical manner. He said: "Using Ketso is an activity where everyone can contribute. This is the sort of tool that Tesco employees really like to use - hands on, visual and it lets everyone shape the outcomes."

Notes for editors

Ketso has over 300 customers and is used in 27 countries, with over 8,000 people at every level from parish councils to national government.

Press contact: Clare Coyne, Roland Dransfield PR, 0161 236 1122
Editors notes:
The University of Manchester Intellectual Property is The University of Manchester’s agent for intellectual property commercialisation and is a division of The University of Manchester Iᶟ Ltd ( – The University’s Innovation Group.
UMIP is wholly owned by The University of Manchester which has over a 20 year history of IP commercialisation.

UMIP’s role is to bring as much of the University’s ground-breaking inventions and software, as is relevant, into the commercial world. This we do principally by attracting entrepreneurs, investors and corporate venture partners to our campus and Innovation Centre ( and then, through engagement with our academic colleagues, licensing or spinning out companies.

Since UMIP’s inception in October 2004 Over 2,300 invention disclosures have been received (371 during 2011/2012.) UMIP has set up 30 spin-out companies and brokered 310 licences and assignments and £225M has been invested by venture funders in University of Manchester spin-outs, a number of which have received national and regional enterprise awards. It currently has over 100 projects in its portfolio at various stages of development.

The University’s IP enterprises have generated approximately £55M to the University through the sale of shares in spin-outs, licensing income and through IP grants and contracts activity. For more information, please visit