Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

How should the platform economy be promoted in the mobility sector?

Can Finland take its place in the global growth market of smart mobility? The platform economy offers mobility sector companies a significant new opportunity for growth, internationalisation and finding solutions to the societal and environmental challenges of mobility. The political intent of the Finnish mobility sector should now be translated into action and policy measures that support it. In this policy brief we present three recommendations related to innovation policy that support the development and growth of the platform economy in the mobility sector.
Policy Brief How should the platform economy be promoted in the mobility sector

Digital services, the sharing economy and smart mobility systems will revolutionise the operating models in the mobility sector. The platform economy allows for a new type of value creation in the mobility sector by gathering different parties into ecosystems that form around the platform (Aalto, Gustafsson & Lipiäinen, 2020; Ailisto et al. 2016). The benefits of platform-type solutions for smart traffic include individualised and customised business and service models as well as resource-effective, optimised and safe operation. New mobility management models, such as emissions trading, help to respond to societal challenges brought about by pollution. Some well-known digital platforms for mobility services already exist, such as Uber and Lyft.

However, mobility is a large sector, and digital service solutions are still being developed separately in its various areas. Smart traffic solutions and multi-modal integration models for digital mobility services (such as MaaS) are about to be launched. New mobility services and smart systems can radically transform urban environments and possibly grow into a market worth more than 600 billion (USD) by 2030. The largest investments and cooperation projects in the sector have focused on autonomous and smart mobility technologies (McKinsey 2019[1]).

Finland has a large number of active mobility sector operators (companies, the public sector, cooperation forums) and a comprehensive, common situational picture (MEAE 2017). Along with the establishment of Fintraffic, some areas of digital infrastructure, including data platforms, have been actively developed (e.g. more than 100 open interfaces; Digitraffic, Digitrans). Finnish digital solutions (e.g. logistics, travel) and mobility service concepts (e.g. MaaS) are also on the leading edge of international development. However, developing an ecosystem that supports growth and internationalisation is a challenge. This is why promoting the platform economy is closely linked to innovation and industrial policy (MEAE 2017).


Scalable platform solutions are not created in the mobility sector → Common rules and preconditions should be created for scalable solutions

The business objectives and incentives of operators in the mobility sector (public funding and market-based incentives) are difficult to reconcile when building platform-based mobility service solutions.

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Aalto University Arts

Data are unavailable or unsuitable for use cases → Common standards should be created, and customer needs should be made transparent

In the mobility sector, the data required for the development of platforms and concrete use cases are not yet shared sufficiently, or based on a common agreement.

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3D Lattice_research Luc Saint-Pierre_photo Valeria Azovskaya_Original.jpg

There are a limited number of digital goods for common use → Ecosystem growth should be accelerated through initial investments and functional interfaces

There are not enough digital goods necessary for the development of new solutions and growth on mobility platforms.

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3D Lattice research Luc Saint-Pierre


The platform economy will revolutionise the mobility services of the future. It will also increasingly define the competitiveness, growth and internationalisation of companies in the mobility sector. New platform-based, resource-efficient and optimised systems for smart mobility will help solve societal challenges of urbanisation and air pollution. It is now time for Finland to grasp the new growth opportunities for smart mobility. The development and growth potential of innovative companies in the sector and the national political intent should be translated into action aimed for finding new solutions.

In this report, we make three recommendations helping to accelerate the development and growth of the platform economy in the mobility sector. Not understanding the needs and capabilities of many operators slows down the development of new platform-based solutions and the creation of a mobility sector ecosystem. Our recommendations aim to reduce these challenges to building an ecosystem. Instead of simple mobility policies, the development proposals should be implemented across all administrative sectors, with a key role assigned to innovation, industrial and information policies. The aim should be to reach the international growth market, where the opportunities of the common European mobility market should be seized, in particular, and their fair development should be promoted.

We recognise that mobility is a large sector in which services are developed and produced by private and public operators. This report does not take a stand on the division of labour between the operators or on the decisions to produce and finance public transport.

Material and methods

This report is based on the results of the Policy Rationales in the Shift to Digital Platform Economy research project funded by Business Finland. The innovation and growth challenges for the platform economy identified in the report are based on a synthesis of a comprehensive literature analysis of over 100 research articles, books and policy reports (Aalto, Gustafsson & Lipiäinen, 2020).  The identified challenges and recommendations in the mobility sector are derived from the results of an expert workshop that focused on this sector. A preliminary survey was conducted and a background document analysing the challenges was produced for the workshop. Top Finnish experts in the areas of platform economy, digital mobility solutions and smart mobility in the private and public sector were represented in the workshop.


Professor Robin Gustafsson
Aalto University, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management 
P.O. Box 15500, FI-00076 Aalto
Tel. +358 50 316 0981
[email protected]
@robingustafs #platformeconomy

Researcher Eero Aalto
Aalto University, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management 
P.O. Box 15500, FI-00076 Aalto
Tel. +358 50 3484 303
[email protected] 
@eeroaalto1 #platformeconomy

Alustaloudessa menestyminen vaatii Suomelta uudenlaisia politiikkatoimia.

Policy Rationales in the Shift to Digital Platform Economy

The project "Policy Rationals in the Shift to Digital Platform Economy" run by Aalto University studies the impacts of digital platform economy to the business and competitiveness of firms and the current state of Finnish innovation funding. 

Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
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