A new tool for sustainable testing industry development: B2B marketplaces

The latest economic trend is based on the responsible use of environmental resources and the sharing of capacity between corporations.

In recent years, the world learned about the sharing economy: a concept based on the use of common goods in line with our occasional needs. Well-known examples are aplenty, from the car-sharing service Uber to the vacation marketplace Airbnb, not to mention the increasingly popular trend of individuals offering dinner to strangers in their own homes.

The sharing economy is gaining ground more than ever, but what exactly makes it so appealing to our generation? The widespread use of digital platforms certainly helps, as well as a more flexible approach that may overwrite our hardwired attachment to private property. The model builds on exploiting capacities that would otherwise remain unused, be they products, services or our own resources. Just think of how we can accommodate tourists in our holiday home or make a few extra bucks by assembling someone’s flat-pack furniture?

This approach not only helps us manage our resources more rationally – it serves sustainable development by promoting the occasional use of goods and services instead of taking possession of them. Many people who travel to the countryside twice a week would rather use GreenGo than buy their own car, which, according to statistics, would go unused 95 percent of the time.

We already understand and know this on an individual level – but how can corporations utilize the same business model?

The next step: sharing economy for companies

The concept has been constantly evolving in recent years – just recently, it also appeared in certain sectors of the economy where its use would have been previously unthinkable. In today’s virtual marketplaces, not only individuals but companies are also increasingly willing to outsource certain tasks and share resources with one another. But how can this new trend contribute to the success of freshly formed startups?

According to the American high-tech news site Techcrunch, the future belongs to those who create B2B (i.e. inter-firm) economic platforms: it is estimated that these businesses could add up to $3.6 trillion in profits by 2024. Instead of individuals, the main consumers of these marketplaces are corporations. Through the sharing economy, not only do they rationalize their expenditures by tapping into previously unused resources, they can also make their own operations more environmentally friendly in the process.

International examples include Orderfox and Xometry, platforms which connect CNC software providers in the field of machining and metalworking with companies who employ them. Or take BookKit, a platform where biotech laboratories conducting research can browse among companies offering testing equipment. Another promising newcomer for automotive and electronics industry is LabShare:

“Many companies could benefit from a more rational use of available resources. Online marketplaces provide an excellent opportunity for corporations to outsource certain tasks to other companies, instead of having to create extra capacity,” says company CEO Levente Bakos.

LabShare, for instance, uses its own platform to connect automotive, rail, aerospace and electronics manufacturing companies with test labs that perform environmental testing and carry out validation tests for production.

In many cases, it is difficult for manufacturers to find a laboratory that provides the full scope of necessary tests within the given timeframe – LabShare, however, allows companies and engineering centers to browse and choose between laboratories based on price, availability and capacity. At the same time, the platform makes it possible for labs to outsource certain operations or even cooperate with each other, allowing them to provide the best possible service to their manufacturing partners.

This is how supply and demand meet – it’s essentially a win-win situation for everyone. Environmental awareness is also an important aspect: if we harmonize our needs, no unused capacities will remain, while the existing ones will be fully exploited. Such cooperation can successfully reduce our ecological footprint and make the testing industry carbon neutral in the long run.

The popularity of the marketplace for business products and services is enhanced by the infrastructure, financial background and security that corporations represent. And while B2B platforms may not become household names like Uber, they might pave the way for a greener and more sustainable economy.