First there was ‘open source software’ – where the source code is made available to others. Now comes the turn of ‘open source hardware’, an evolution of the sharing economy. Enter the online collaboration platform &Share, which aims to allow organisations to share underutilised resources: spaces, equipment, vehicles, skills, waste materials, even data.
Early sharing sites, from accommodation finders to car-sharing services, were directed primarily at person to person transactions, says &Share founder Alex Whitcroft, a UK-based architect.
“Organisations have not really been engaged and that’s partly because they haven’t had the tools”, he says. Now they have a convenor – and what’s more, it’s genuinely free of charge. Airbnb and others involve charges, meaning they are essentially ‘micro-entrepreneurship’ or ‘online rental’, says Whitcroft. He has signed up universities, maker spaces, theatres and social enterprises to a pilot, offering them opportunities to strengthen useful relationships and build wider collaborative networks.
Whitcroft has built analytics into &Share so that it can also become an organisation’s main charitable giving platform, recording donations and measuring impact to provide a form of third-party certification.
Photo credit: Creativity 103 / Flickr
The capacity for organisations to share resources not only offers efficiency and cost savings, but could strengthen B2B relationships and benefit brand profile. What’s not to like?