The collaborative economy has fueled public debate in recent years. Although development was received positively in the beginning, yet minor cases being viewed as disruptive, public criticism has been voiced more frequently during the last couple of months. Nevertheless, the potential and high value of platforms in this sector, such as Uber and Airbnb, are persuading a growing number of businesses to start a platform themselves. Many platforms make it difficult for users to see the wood for the trees. From this point on, this will be changed for the Dutch market.
Collaborative economy analyst and researcher at Crowd Expedition, Martijn Arets, launched the website deeleconomieinnederland.nl (Sharing / Collaborative Economy in the Netherlands), in cooperation with the University of Utrecht, Centraal Beheer, and the DOEN Foundation. Arets says, “The growth in the number of platforms in the collaborative economy market, active in the Netherlands, is huge. I expect the number, currently over 130 already, and which isn’t even the complete picture, to double over the next two years. Partially by Dutch platforms, and partially by foreign platforms entering the Dutch market. The collaborative economy in the Netherlands also starts to represent a greater variety of sectors, which is great news. These platforms have a social, durable, and financial impact on their users. More often than not, they offer a far better solution –or at least a welcome alternative– to the current market. At deeleconomieinnederland.nl we map out the current situation. All active platforms are given an extensive information profile, and the latest news is being presented.”
Raising awareness, stimulating research
Besides a practical overview, the website will be expanded over the next few months with a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section, which will raise awareness about participation in the collaborative economy in several industries. Arets comments, “Additions will include information about insurances, responsibility, as well as information and resources to start a collaborative initiative yourself. In many cases a WhatsApp or Facebook group might be sufficient. Oftentimes, it happens very locally.” All data on the platform will be made available for free to researchers under a Creative Commons license. Koen Frenken, Professor of Innovation from the University of Utrecht says, “There isn’t much data available about the collaborative economy platforms. Through this website we can collect valuable information, which might in turn boost the research in this industry”. Data is currently only available in Dutch, but will be translated to English later this year and is expect to be presented this fall.
The sectors money (+120), items (39), services (27), and mobility (20) head the list totaling 11 industries. Arets observes, “The number of platforms per sector isn’t all there is to say. We hardly see any new initiatives in the home exchange sector. This might be due to the fact that there are already a few strong players in the market. Within the sector ‘space’, I see the number of platforms to share parking lots has grown to four recently. This clearly is a market where potential is recognized, and which lacks a strong player. I expect exactly these kinds of sectors to experience the largest short term growth, followed by a so called ‘shake out’ in about a year or two. Besides this, I expect to see a growth in local initiatives in coming years. The threshold is certainly lowered day by day through the creation of free tools.”
With a little patience
The website was launched last week with 100 collaborative platforms profiles. Arets explains, “We’re making a good start. We’ll fill in the gaps during the months ahead as we aim to offer a complete overview for customers and a relevant dataset for researchers.”