Making Sense of the UK Collaborative Economy
Nesta and Collaborative Lab published a research report aiming to figure out how a road ahead in the collaborative economy, although not necessarily straightforward, can work in powerful ways for 21st century business, governments and communities.
The collaborative economy is becoming difficult to ignore; it is undeniably a global movement that dominates news with tales of startup glory and threats of government responses to industry disruption. Whether people associate their activities with this specific term or not, this report shows that a quarter of the UK population have used digital technologies to access goods, services, money and knowledge from new people–powered networks and marketplaces.
As this space grows, so does the confusion around what to even call it, what it actually consists of, and most importantly, how organisations from the public and private sector can benefit from the collaborative economy. In this report – a collaboration between Nesta and Collaborative Lab – we have attempted to define the space and its key characteristics. It is clear that the collaborative economy is not only an emerging sector. It’s not just for startups. It’s not just about sharing homes, taxis and power drills. It’s not just about disruption.
The collaborative economy is best thought of as a zoom lens, offering a transformative perspective on the social, environmental, and economic value that can be created from a number of assets in ways and on a scale that did not exist before. The core principles can be readily applied in almost any context, whether you’re a multinational corporate or a community group in Cornwall. That makes the potential future impact of the collaborative economy as uncertain as it is exciting. There is a need and opportunity for governments – local and national – to understand, embrace and most importantly apply the principles of the collaborative economy to make smarter use of the physical resources, skills, and knowledge that reside in every community, in every city across the UK.