May 10, 2017

Sharing Economy Social Innovation Discovery Event

3 minute read, in Social Issues / Social Networking

How might we identify and foster new arrangements and social ventures to use latent government assets in the emerging, sharing economy?

This was the overarching question for the Sharing Economy Social Innovation Discovery Event that took place at Ryerson University on Monday May 1st. But what exactly does this mean?

First, what is the sharing economy? At the event, as an attendee, we got to vote on six different definitions from a scale of too broad to too narrow. The definition that got the most results closest to a “just right” definition was the following from the City of Toronto.

“The sharing economy consists of marketplaces and platforms that allow individuals and organizations to buy and sell goods and services directly from one another, and share or lend goods or assets on a short-term or time-share basis.”


With this in mind, we were asking how might we create new opportunities from unused government assets that have potential to contribute to the sharing economy. To break it down further, the event consisted of five individuals panelists, each with their own “how might we” statement, that addressed varying levels of the overarching question above.

  1. How might we ensure inclusion in the sharing economy where government assets are developed & used?
  2. How might we create new offers to fill gaps, solve problems & form markets using latent government assets?
  3. How might we co-create new models & joint agreements to use latent government assets?
  4. How might we redefine, catalog, expose & mobilize latent assets?
  5. How might we drive platform partnerships in the social, sharing economy?

Attendees had the opportunity to self arrange in groups based on the statements that we believed resonated with us the most. We spent 75 minutes in our groups with a panelist to guide and foster discussion around these topics. But we weren’t here to solve these problems. In fact, most of these discussions let to more questions. But this event signifies the first of a series of events where we hope these themes and discussions can evolve and grow.


From my personal experience, a common theme I noticed throughout the day was that there is no one size fits all approach. Each asset will come with it’s own specifications and elements that need to be addressed, whether it be location, accessibility, time, or cost (to name a few broad examples). But as I said, most discussions led to more questions and one that I hope to see evolve is what might the process of approving an asset to be usable within the sharing economy look like?

It was an amazing opportunity to spend time with such knowledgeable and curious people and to see how the emerging sharing economy is playing a role within many industries. I hope I can speak for everyone who attended when I say that I learnt a lot, but also became aware of how much more there still is to learn. I am excited to see the progress of these events and be apart of the continuing conversation.

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