The new socio-economic models emerging in online social networks have significantly changed traditional business, consumption, lifestyle, and work patterns. The development of digital networking platforms, electronic payments, and mobile applications made it possible to bring supply and demand into a direct relationship according to the principle of connecting “those who need and those who have.” The sharing Economy, which describes digitally coordinated economic activities where consumers get temporary access to products and services, becomes the basis for developing new business ideas. Due to the tremendous success of sharing economy companies such as Uber and Airbnb at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, this concept has attracted the attention of scientific and professional public and public policies.
What is the sharing Economy? What are its potentials and benefits, how to activate them, and what are the obstacles and challenges stakeholders need to overcome? These are just some of the questions to be answered. At this moment, the rise of the sharing Economy at the global level is evident. But also, uneven development is attributed to differences in the business environment and the complexity of digital trust. For example, the level of development of the Sharing Economy is very uneven in countries of the European Union, both in terms of share in total revenues on the market and share in the gross national product, which does not exceed 0.1% even in the leading countries . At the same time, although most Europeans know about sharing platforms, only one out of five uses them (23%) .
The complexity of the sharing economy phenomenon and the strong socio-economic transformative effects indicate the need to establish a framework for continuous research to properly use new socio-economic models’ innovative potential. Activating the Sharing Economy’s potential requires the combined efforts of all interested parties, where the so-called mediators between science and public policies play a crucial role. Their part is to strengthen the capacities of all interested parties through the exchange of knowledge and experience and networking of relevant actors, whereas to identify and activate technological, social, and regulatory potentials and overcome the challenges of the development of the sharing Economy.
Research within the PANACEA project focuses on the sharing Economy, i.e., establishing capacities for its development in Serbia. Therefore, the main goal of the PANACEA project is to build the capacities necessary for “unlocking” the sharing economy market and its accelerated development. Consequently, it implies three specific goals:
- The first goal is to make scientific and practical knowledge from the Sharing Economy field available to everyone by creating a unique digital platform and establishing the Serbian Sharing Economy Competence Center.
- The second objective involves the mobilization and connection of stakeholders (interest groups) of the Sharing Economy, such as users/customers, service providers, local authorities, public policyholders and regulatory bodies, the academic community, and all others who may be directly or indirectly influenced by the development of sharing economy platforms.
- Finally, the third goal is to improve the competencies of the relevant participants by learning from the experience and best practices of leading experts worldwide, which are necessary for building management capacities and accelerating the development of the Sharing Economy in Serbia.
The expected result of the PANACEA project is establishing the Serbian Sharing Economy Competence Center. The National Center’s activities will aim to strengthen the capacity of the sharing economy community through the creation of a digital platform for the dissemination of knowledge and practical experiences in the field of sharing Economy, as well as through networking with the key actors of the Sharing Economy and strengthening their competencies.
 Nunu, M., Nausedaite, R., Eljas-Taal, K., Svatikova, K., & Porsch, L. (2018). Study to Monitor the Economic Development of the Collaborative Economy at the sector level in the 28 EU Member States. European Commission: Brussels. DOI: 10.2873/83555
 Eurobarometer (2018). The use of the collaborative Economy, Flash Eurobarometer 467. European Commission: Brussels. Available at: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/ebsm/api/public/deliverable/download?doc=true&deliverableId=66851, DOI: 102873/598782
The Project Methodology
Serbian Sharing Economy Competence Center (SeSECC) – will be established in accordance with the goals of the Project and based on examples of similar initiatives, such as the European Union’s guidelines for establishing Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) and good practices of similar centres in Europe.
The main phases of the Center’s development and the first three work packages (WP) of the PANACEA Project are design, activation, and establishment/maintenance.
The first phase – Design (WP1), begins with collecting relevant information and knowledge in the Sharing Economy field. The findings of this research will be summarized in the first report of the PANACEA project “The Sharing Economy: Characteristics, Business Models, Examples of Platforms, and Development Challenges”. In the next phase, potential participants of the Sharing Economy in Serbia will be mapped, and relevant representatives will gather at the introductory workshop, which would be the first step towards establishing a sharing economy community in Serbia. Finally, the feedback from this workshop will be used for conceptualizing the Center – its mission and vision, tasks, and goals.
At the beginning of the Activation (WP2) phase, extensive surveys will be conducted on representative samples. They will involve service providers, enabling organizations, and the general public (consumers and potential users). After analyzing and integrating the information from both sides of the market, an extensive report and an action plan for capacity building will be compiled, which will be verified by the interested stakeholders in a special workshop.
Phase three – Establishment and maintenance (WP3) will include the establishment of the necessary infrastructure (procurement of equipment, furnishing the premises), the launch of the Center and its initial activities, primarily those aimed at creating awareness and spreading knowledge about the Sharing Economy, providing answers and connecting stakeholders, mentoring, and training users. After the establishment phase, the Center’s regular activities will include standard services (providing information, administering communication channels, publishing reports/tools, hosting events, workshops, consulting activities, etc.).
Communication, dissemination, and exploitation of project results (WP4) continue throughout the Project. These activities will enable interested parties and the general public to be timely informed about the development of the PANACEA project, the key results, and the possibilities of their application. In addition, continuous project management and quality control (WP5) are an integral part of the Project during all 36 months.
Who can benefit from the research results within the PANACEA project?
By raising the level of knowledge and building capacity for faster development of the Sharing Economy in Serbia, multiple benefits could be achieved for the environment, economy, education, science, and other aspects of people’s lives and work. The development of the Sharing Economy, supported by the National Center, will create many possibilities and opportunities that will bring benefits (e.g. lower transaction costs, new sources of income, and knowledge transfer) to individuals, households, organizations, and society. The increase in energy efficiency based on the application of the Sharing Economy in certain areas, such as transport, as well as the increase in the utilization of insufficiently used resources on this basis, are in the function of sustainability, i.e. environmental protection. The scientific community and the entire educational system will benefit significantly from the results of the Project, bearing in mind that the National Competence Center will provide the knowledge transfer that will lead to the creation of new curricula at different levels of education. It will be the catalyst for further research and projects on the topic of the new concept of the Economy. The National Competence Center will contribute to improving the entire economy’s competitiveness by encouraging entrepreneurship, especially among the younger generations that grew up in the era of digital platforms, but also by developing new business models in mature industries, attracting new (smart) investments, etc. In the long term, citizens and society will benefit from the research and goals set on that basis. A more accessible, practical, and efficient life for the participants, as well as the establishment of a stronger community and mutual trust in society, are just some of the positive effects at this level. The knowledge collected by annual surveys on the state and prospects of the development of the Sharing Economy will be presented in the form of reports and scientific papers and, as such, will be available in the long term on the official website. Also, a whole series of activities can be carried out even after the formal completion of the Project, which will benefit the participants from various organizations, members of regulatory bodies, public policyholders, and many other stakeholders.