Why are we doing this?
From car sharing to crowdfunding, there’s a lot of hype and enthusiasm around the collaborative economy and how it is transforming our economy and society. However, no one seems to agree on exactly what it is.
The Internet has made it radically easier for people to connect with one another, and to coordinate their activities. Individuals and organisations are harnessing this potential to make better use of the idling capacity. In the process, many also aspire to encourage meaningful interactions and trust between people, as well as embrace openness, inclusiveness and the commons.
Amidst the collaborative economy’s rising popularity and controversy, it is crucial that we balance enthusiastic support with reflective critique. How we understand and encourage this phenomenon now will directly influence the shape and impact it has in the future.
What are we doing?
Nesta has partnered with Collaborative Lab to undertake a programme of research into the collaborative economy. Our first report, Making Sense of the UK Collaborative Economy, offered a more detailed view of the current landscape in the UK. In the coming months, we plan to publish additional research and explore opportunities for practical action surrounding the collaborative economy. Ultimately, we hope our efforts will inform and contribute to the development of an equitable, sustainable and efficient collaborative economy in the UK.
We are also keen to find ways of connecting our findings and methods with similar efforts internationally – ensuring individual research efforts into the collaborative economy can combine to be greater than the sum of their parts.
Nesta has already led research into several key aspects of the collaborative economy, most notably crowdfunding and coproduction. We also have a long tradition of supporting collaborative activities to spur innovation. Our Innovation in Giving Fund and the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund (in partnership with the Cabinet Office) have supported organisations that bring together groups in collaborative ways to address social challenges and help their communities flourish.