Scotland’s interest in the collaborative economy is growing, particularly in areas such as peer-to-peer accommodation and car sharing which are bringing significant benefits to individuals, communities and businesses. However, to date, most collaborative platforms have been driven by for-profit business models. The Scottish Government believes that there is huge potential for the collaborative economy to contribute to the fairer, more socially responsible economy that we want for Scotland.

The Scottish Government is partnering with Nesta to help early stage projects develop collaborative digital platforms that contribute to Scotland’s sustainable energy and transport ambitions, in line with the vision for a low carbon energy future set out in Scotland’s Energy Strategy. We are looking for bold and ambitious projects that demonstrate how Scotland’s citizens can engage with new and innovative ways to meet energy and transport needs; or to sustainably share goods and services, community assets and resources to benefit vulnerable consumers.

Grants of £15,000 - £33,000 are available for selected projects. These projects will benefit from Nesta’s direct advice and support, particularly around idea development and project delivery. They will also benefit from being part of a Scottish peer group which will help shape how Scotland grows its collaborative economy.

The Scottish Government’s Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy defines the collaborative economy as ‘connecting individuals or communities via online platforms to enable the sharing or provision of goods and services, assets and resources without the need for ownership’.
This is not just a website. It is a web-based digital matching or exchange platform that helps to unlock idle or underused resources (such as objects, skills, money and/or people) by matching ‘haves’ with ‘wants’ in ways that enable greater efficiency and ease of access.

What kind of projects will ShareLab Scotland support?

There are three main themes: energy, transport and community resources.

  1. Energy

Scotland’s Energy Strategy sets out a vision for a flourishing, competitive local and national energy sector which delivers secure, affordable, clean energy for Scotland's households, communities and businesses. Delivering this vision depends on working effectively and meaningfully with citizens across Scotland. Selected ideas will draw on the strengths, capacities, skills and ideas of energy consumers and producers to help shape Scotland’s future energy system. Successful ideas will show how all all consumers can benefit from the energy transition, including those who are less able to engage. Consumer engagement and protection is one of the six priorities of the strategy.You can read more about the strategy here.

Under this theme, we particularly invite ideas that:

  • Foster sustainable energy consumption
  • Enable uptake of community renewable energy schemes
  • Develop energy storage mechanisms
  • Enable peer-to-peer energy sharing
  1. Transport

The Scottish Government's overall purpose is to increase sustainable economic growth. A safe, efficient, effective and sustainable transport system is one of the key enablers. We want to continue to support improved connectivity for all of Scotland, particularly for those living or working in remote and rural areas or who otherwise rely on others to get around. We also want to seek opportunities to maximise the impact of the investments we are making, including in electric vehicles. For example we are looking for ideas including those that

  • Deliver transport benefits that reduce energy needs or expand and enhance transport services in rural areas
  • Help community transport, dial-a-ride and community car schemes to collaborate more effectively;
  • Fill empty seats, reduce isolation and transport poverty for vulnerable people.
  1. Community resources

Other proposals that can deliver benefits targeted specifically to vulnerable consumers and which support our aim for the collaborative economy to create a fairer, more equal Scotland will also be considered. To be selected, projects will have to show how they have built on past learning to demonstrate ways in which a digital collaborative platform would enhance resource and asset sharing for the most vulnerable in society. For example by:

  • Sharing physical resources such as tool and toy libraries
  • Sharing skills such as computing, plumbing or gardening
  • Collective buying initiatives such as oil buying clubs and food buying clubs, or other initiatives that enable vulnerable consumers to engage in markets
  • Increasing sustainable use of buildings and sharing community environmental assets such as gardens and kitchens

How will successful projects be selected?

As well as demonstrating how projects contribute to the focus areas above,, applicants will be assessed on how they meet the following selection criteria:

Selection Criteria

  • Innovation and ambition: is the idea original and compelling?
  • Desirability: is it appealing to users / commissioners?
  • Impact: what impact would the project have on Scotland’s consumers and communities? How would the impact be measured?
  • Scale: is this an idea that can grow, or that could have broad applicability in other geographies or contexts? Does it learn from others’ work?
  • Financial sustainability: is there a credible route to the initiative becoming self-sustaining over time?

A panel of experts will review applications to determine which have the greatest potential to deliver our focus areas and desired outcomes, and provide the strongest evidence against the selection criteria.

What are the desired outcomes of ShareLab Scotland?

We’ve provided some examples of the kind of change we’d like successful projects to make. The desired outcomes of the fund are detailed below. If you would like to check whether your project might be eligible please talk to us.

Desired outcomes for projects:

  • Funded projects have increased knowledge and skills to develop and deliver their services through a collaborative platform.
  • Funded projects have an increased understanding of how to deliver the needs of individuals and communities.

Desired outcomes for communities and individuals:

  • Communities and individuals as energy consumers, producers and investors have improved choice and a greater sense of empowerment
  • Vulnerable consumers benefit from sharing individual or community resources or are better able to achieve positive outcomes in markets
  • Transport provision and choice is improved in rural areas with potential to expand elsewhere

Insights and recommendations will be collated and published by the Scottish Government to inform future developments and understanding of the success factors for new platforms.



To be considered, submitted ideas must:

  • Be delivered in Scotland for the benefit of people living in Scotland
  • Make use of a collaborative digital platform,
    (this is not just a website, but a web-based digital tool that helps find, connect or mobilise assets, time, skills, money, resources or people”)
  • Clearly address the themes of sustainable energy and/or transport, or otherwise deliver benefits to consumers in vulnerable circumstances and/or disadvantaged communities
  • Clearly demonstrate how they contribute to the desired outcomes

To be part of the fund we want to work with individuals and organisations who demonstrate they:

  • Are passionate about the opportunities that new technologies and ways of working can bring to social challenges.
  • Have a commitment to actively taking part in workshops and events as part of idea development.
  • Are supported by a competent delivery team
  • Are open to being challenged and supported to grow their idea.
  • Work with open data / open source technology
  • Are innovative in the way they organise and govern themselves e.g. platform coops, mutuals, self-managed teams etc.
  • Are happy to share their learning more widely - the challenges as well as the successes.

We are not able to support ideas that:

  • Are likely to increase inequality or exclusion, or otherwise have a harmful or detrimental effect on individuals.
  • Are not likely to benefit the public, or a sufficient portion of the public. We cannot support ideas that are solely or predominantly for the personal or private financial benefit of an individual or organisation.
  • Are led by a Local Authority. However, please note that a Local Authority can form part of a partnership proposal, and we welcome proposals in partnership.

How to apply

Phase 1 – Discovery : Find out more about ShareLab Scotland

We will be hosting a series of workshops and webinars about the fund over the summer of 2018. We strongly encourage potential applicants to attend a webinar or workshop as they are designed to be an open invitation to find out more about what we are looking for from applications and also an opportunity to connect with other like-minded organisations and potential collaborators.

Please note there will not be anymore briefing workshops scheduled now. For further information, please email us at [email protected].

We will add to the FAQ section of the website based on any queries identified through these activities. You can also view slides from our webinar presentation online.

Phase 2 – Proposals: Submit your idea

We invite you to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) form by 11am on Thursday 23 August.

You can access a list of the questions we’re likely to ask as a draft document.

Phase 3 – Shortlisting : Invitations to development workshop

Based on the ideas submitted; Nesta will work with the Scottish Government to create a shortlist of ideas with greatest potential and will invite you to attend a workshop to develop them in September. Shortlisted applicants will meet with Nesta mentors and external advisors to review and work on the ideas together. The aim of this is to create connections between projects and support development of all the shortlisted ideas.

Phase 4 – Final proposals

Those with shortlisted ideas who have joined the workshop will then be invited to submit full applications and final decisions for funding will be made by Scottish Government and Nesta.


  • Summer 2018 : Participate in either a workshop or webinar to find out more about the call and discuss your idea. (Contact [email protected] for the latest dates and locations.)
  • Deadline for EOI submission: 11am on Thursday 23 August : Submit your idea via the online Expression of Interest form.
  • 10 September 2018: Workshop for shortlisted ideas.
  • October/November 2018: Submission of a full application and final selection of funded projects with an aim to make funding decisions