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Collaborative and sharing economy

Over the past few years the terms “sharing economy” and “collaborative economy” have entered the mainstream consciousness, mainly fuelled by greater awareness - and debate - about platforms like Uber and Airbnb and the rise of the so-called “gig economy”.

While the utopia of a new economy based upon sharing, which many envisaged only five years ago, has not emerged, we are seeing a growing number of initiatives which are making use of marketplaces and peer-to-peer matching to deliver positive social impact. At the same time, a number of ideas - such as new forms of collective action and the platform cooperative movement - are now seeking to rethink the collaborative economy and tackle some of the challenges it has thrown up. Finally, there’s been a resurgence in sharing and collaborative models which aren’t powered by new technology - such as new forms of volunteering and social action, and community and collective ownership models.

The collaborative and sharing economy (CSE) network of SIC aims to bring together different stakeholders - practitioners, policymakers, civil society, community groups, public services - to help them understand and make real new economic models, to design more efficient public services, to protect citizens and workers, and to create positive social impact.

Who do we want to help?

We want to help anyone who’s interested in the collaborative and sharing economy’s potential for social innovation. In particular, we’d like to support the following audiences:

  • Public sector and government. The potential for collaborative and sharing models to deliver public services in new ways has so far gone unrealised. We’d like to help public sector people to understand how new, inclusive models can help them at a time of shrinking budgets and public disengagement, and to learn from cities and countries that are using the collaborative and sharing economy for social innovation.

  • Practitioners in the collaborative and sharing economy. We’d like to help you make new connections, find useful resources and access great content.

  • Researchers. There is a growing body of research and evidence to do with the collaborative and sharing economy, although a lot of it has been focused on topics such as the gig economy and the opportunities and challenges of mainstream collaborative platforms. We’d like to work with you to understand more about how the collaborative and sharing economy can be used for social innovation.

What can we offer you?

Nesta, the facilitator of the CSE network, has worked on the collaborative economy for over five years, and has built up a strong network across and beyond Europe. By combining this with other SIC SIC networks, we offer three things:

  • New connections. We can connect you to the people you need to be speaking to, across and within countries, social areas, technologies, priorities and types of stakeholder. If you’re looking for someone to work with, influence, learn from or just talk to, we can help you - just get in touch. Through our programme of events, you can meet new people who you might otherwise never have met.      

  • New ideas. We create great content - stories, opinions, debates, interviews and primers. Primarily, we want to stimulate and share ideas and good practice about how collaborative and sharing models can be used to deliver positive social impact, particularly in ways which link to other types of social innovation, like community-led innovation, public sector innovation or climate innovation. We harness our diverse networks to expose you to new ideas. And when we don’t have the answers, we can direct you to other sources of great content and resources.

  • New audiences. We can help you amplify your message: by tweeting about you, telling others about your work or publishing a guest blog.

Meet your network facilitator

Matt is a researcher at Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation, where he focuses on collaborative economy and digital social innovation. He’s got an insatiable appetite to learn more about how people are working day in, day out to make people’s lives better, to help build relationships, and to facilitate the creation of knowledge.

Matt’s always on the lookout for new people to talk to, learn from and partner with, so please do drop him a line whenever on