At EUROCITIES 2016 Milan, participants had the chance to debate ways to support new business models in the sharing economy during a political roundtable session.
The roundtable focused on new business models in the sharing economy, and explored the opportunities and challenges cities are facing. Cities and stakeholders present had the opportunity to share their experiences of the sharing economy, and then debated the challenges and roles for city authorities. Participants found that the majority of cities are already actively engaged in the sharing economy, and many highlighted projects they are involved in, such as bicycle sharing, start-up incubators, the Sharing Cities project, exploring open data, and housing projects where young people live in older people’s homes for free. Cities can act as platforms and facilitators to the actors within the sharing economy, and can empower stakeholders.
One of the challenges for new business models is ensuring that they deliver greater economic and social cohesion, so investing in education was identified as an important factor. Cities have a major role to play in ensuring the benefits of the sharing economy reach everyone, not just a few, regardless of citizens’ location or social backgrounds.
The sharing economy challenges the way infrastructure and data are controlled and managed. Data must be protected and transparency guaranteed. Trust is at the heart of the sharing concept, but current mistrust in political institutions could hinder cities’ room for manoeuvre.
It is also challenging for public administrations to respond quickly to technological developments, so ensuring a balance between regulatory frameworks and entrepreneurial incentives is essential. It is also important that social and tax standards are upheld, and a European framework is needed to ensure this.
Despite the differences between cities’ challenges, regional and national approaches, participants all agreed that the focus of the sharing economy should be on citizens and not just technology. They agreed on the importance of sharing knowledge and experience in this field.