Digital innovation is creating entirely new ways of doing business, unlocking economic value from skills and assets people already own
UK businesses stand to unlock £9 billion by year by 2025 through the ‘sharing economy,’ according to an ambitious new report published by the Department of Innovation, Business and Skills.
The report outlines how the UK could replicate the success of US companies like worldwide accommodation sharing site Airbnb, which was founded in 2008 and is already worth over $10 billion.
These companies are built on sharing resources, time and skills across new digital platforms, allowing customers access to goods without ownership.
Disruptive business models based around sharing can unlock value from previously unused or under-used assets, and help people utilise their skills and save money by only paying for something when they need it.
In a survey by consultancy firm PwC, 70% of the UK population said they would happily share their idle assets if it was easy and convenient to do so, and for many the model presents a huge opportunity to work flexibly and become ‘microentrepreneurs.’
Sectors already reaping the opportunities from the sharing economy include accommodation, transport and skills, but the transformation is beginning to spread to new areas including food, fashion and consumer electronics.
The UK could become a global centre for this fast-growing sector, said the report, if the government helps embrace these opportunities by encouraging experimentation and innovation and reinforcing regulations to strengthen trust between parties.
The sharing economy itself should also come together to set benchmarks and standards.
‘The UK is embracing new, disruptive business models and challenger businesses that increase competition and offer new products and experiences for consumers,’ said Matthew Hancock, minister of state for business, enterprise and energy. ‘Where other countries and cities are closing down consumer choice, and limiting people’s freedom to make better use of their possessions, we are embracing it.’