Developing Innovations for the Sharing Economy

Published Apr-17-17

Solutions to improve trust and drive innovation in the sharing economy.

Innovate UK, United Kingdom

The Story:

Developing Innovations for the Sharing Economy The sharing economy, also known as the access economy and the peer-to-peer economy is a trend that is growing fast. It is built around the sharing and renting/hiring of physical, human and intellectual resources and includes the production, distribution and creation of goods and services by individuals, companies and organizations. And it has led to a rapid rise in the number of 'gig economy' workers.

To encourage innovation in this economy, the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK launched an open innovation competition. It was on the hunt for innovative ideas for six contest challenges.

Open Innovation Challenges

They were: trust in the sharing economy (one of the main barriers to wider adoption), next generation tourism and channel, new areas and markets for the sharing economy, sustainable construction, sharing innovation in the home improvement market and data and analytics for sharing economy cities.

More than 200 entries were submitted to the open innovation contest, the most the organization had ever received for a competition under its IC Tomorrow program.

"This unprecedented popularity proves that momentum for the collaborative economy is still very much on the rise. This is no surprise considering 64 per cent of organizations operating in the sharing economy were founded in or after 2010, suggesting that the space is still ripe for further development," Innovate UK stated in a press release.

There was one winner for each challenge area and they were awarded up to £30,000 each (approx. USD $37,000) as well as the opportunity to develop their prototypes with the contest's partners, including Airbinb, Sharing Economy UK and Peterborough City

The open innovation winners were:

Trust in the sharing economy: KnowNow Information Limited for a new personal data consent service that gives users more control of their data and validates the identities of other consumers.

Next generation tourism and travel: Bubbl Limited for a geolocation mobile app called AirBubbl that's designed to better connect users with local communities.

New sectors for the sharing economy: this was won by Digital Algorithms Limited for a system to connect volunteers with local opportunities that suit their skills.

Sustainable construction: Circology picked up the award for a digital platform it is developing that is designed to reduce waste in the construction industry. It allows people to value materials in-situ prior to the end of a project to determine if they are able to be reused.

Sharing innovation in home improvement: Makercase Limited for a platform that provides people with on-demand access to equipment, tools and educational content.

Data analytics for sharing economy cities: Folk Labs for a tool it is working on that will visualize urban systems by crowdsourced data, giving communities a better understanding of how they build upon sharing capabilities.

Next Steps

Following completion of the contest, product trials launched in the spring of 2017.

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