IDEA maps the sharing economy in Flanders

IDEA maps the sharing economy in Flanders

The sharing economy (collaborative economy) is steadily growing due to trends such as the increasing digitalisation of society and the recent economic crisis. In Flanders, several new players have entered the market in recent years for a wide range of sharing activities. Examples include Peerby (sharing things among neighbours), Blablacar (car sharing), Couch Surfing (sharing a place to sleep), Listminut (sharing of expertise), FLAVR (meal sharing), Floow2 (sharing business equipment and services), Launchdesk (sharing office space), etc.

However, this strong growth also raises a lot of questions and concerns. Although all these initiatives are classified as ‘sharing economy' there are major differences between them. As a result, the concept of 'sharing economy' is currently a catch-all term, and that no clear definition is available. However, a definition would be useful to measure the extent to which Flemish people are already active in the sharing economy. Furthermore, this growing economy also imposes numerous challenges at several policy levels.

Therefore, in this exploratory study, we support the Flemish government in defining the concept ‘sharing economy' and its scope. The study maps out the features of the sharing economy in terms of its objectives, activities, subsectors, business models and the actors involved (service providers, platforms and users). This is how this exploratory study is the first to map the sharing economy in Flanders. The role of digitalisation in the development of the sharing economy is also clarified. Finally, an overview of the expected effects serves as valuable input to conclude the study with a set of policy recommendations for the Flemish government.

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