This paper, prepared by Nesta for the European Commission, presents a brief overview of current literature and expert views related to Europe’s social purpose collaborative economy. It outlines a number of key opportunities and challenges in this growing area, which, to date, has received limited attention from policy makers, funders, and researchers.

Major opportunities highlighted include the reduction of delivery costs and an increase in the scale and reach of initiatives that address social challenges. Examples from the study also demonstrate how collaborative models can help develop more flexible solutions to niche or local needs, while involving new people, assets, and skills. The main challenge, the authors argue, will be to ensure access and equality in the collaborative economy, as online collaborative economy market places favour those with disposable income or assets as well as those who have digital skills.