Innovation: predictions for 2016

Nesta, the UK's innovation charity, has been making technology and sociological predictions for the last five years. What key themes has it chosen for 2016?

Twelve months ago, Nesta's new year's predictions included: continued growth of the Internet of Everything; digital makers and digital art; food waste awareness and online democracy. So what, according to Nesta, does 2016 promise?

Cybersecurity concerns go domestic

The growth of the Internet of Things and the adoption of smart devices in domestic settings raise concerns about domestic security.  Unsecured devices, from baby monitors to cars, can provide all sorts of valuable information for hackers.  2016 will see a growth in easy to use digital home security systems and closer collaboration between Internet of Things companies and the cybersecurity research community.

New types of universities emerge

Recent years have seen an increase in the wealth of universities and in worldwide student numbers. Universities are still, in the main, measured by the quality of teaching and research and are keen to attract international students and funding.  However, Nesta is predicting a growing interest in practical engagement with society and community and a growth of collaborative problem solving.  Students themselves will be a driving force in this change, as they set out to do more than get a good degree – but to ‘do good’. The growth of MOOCs and online learning is also feeding the demand for collaborative and flipped learning.

…2016 will bring the spread of very different methods that harness student brainpower to real life problems. Their aim will be to reconnect universities and the communities they’re in, while also better preparing young people for the future.

The arts and retail – new collaborations

Online sales may well be breaking records, but millions of people are still attracted to the high street.  Retailers are exploring ways to enhance the customer’s experiences through a mix of digital and physical experiences - omni-channel retailing.  (Take a look at this video from Burberry’s flagship London store for an example). Then there’s Google, moving from digital to physical with the opening of its new store.

One way in which retail will be offering these enhanced omni-experiences may be in new partnerships with the arts sector. 

The opportunities for retail spaces to be brought alive with experiences imagined by artists and performances are huge.

You can read more about all of Nesta's 2016 predictions here.  You can also read this article, which reflects on its predictions from earlier years – including ones which were wide of the mark.