A virtual enterprise (VE) is a temporary alliance of businesses that come together to share skills or core and resources in order to better respond to business opportunities, and whose cooperation is supported by computer networks.
It is a manifestation of distributed collaborative networks. A virtual enterprise is a particular case of virtual organization.
Virtual enterprises have become increasingly common in the area of research and development, with often far-flung organizations forming alliances that amount to a Virtual Research Laboratory. Vassiliou (2007) outlined a broad continuum of possible virtual laboratory relationships, ranging from relatively simple outsourcing by a central organization to tightly knit consortia of collaborating entities.