Why are we doing this?
From car sharing to crowdfunding, there has been a lot of hype and enthusiasm around the collaborative economy and its potential to transform our economy and society. However, it can be difficult to pin down 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.
Through our work on the collaborative economy, Nesta aims to understand and encourage this phenomenon and to balance enthusiastic support with reflective critique.
What are we doing?
Nesta formed a partnership 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. This was followed by additional research and exploration of opportunities for practical action surrounding the collaborative economy. This includes ShareLab - an initiative to highlight the work of people who are exploring how collaborative platforms can create social impact.
We remain 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 led research into several key aspects of the collaborative economy, most notably crowdfunding and co-production. 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.