Milan Sharing City

City, Country

Milan, Italy

Initiative/ policy

The City of Milan has been the first public administration in Italy that has adopted specific guidelines for the sharing economy. During 2014, the Municipality carried out a public consultation with operators, citizens and experts which has led to the approval of the Milan Sharing City document. The objective of Milan Sharing City is to identify a series of actions to create in Milan a ‘collaborative institutional ecosystem, conducive to the development of a regulated, inclusive and sustainable shared economy and to bring out, enhance and connect socially and economically innovative territorial initiatives’. The document identifies the characteristics of the Sharing Economy initiatives to be supported and the objectives to be pursued through a specific action plan.

The core vision of Milan Sharing City is that of a city that leverages sharing and collaborative practices as a means for social innovation, and that puts strong attention on citizens and co-creation practices as drivers of social and economic value. The Municipality has been proactively supporting the spread of sharing models, especially across mobility, youth entrepreneurship, access to shared working facilities, and neighboring initiatives such as social streets and initiatives in the field of food waste reduction.

Initiative's relationship to REFLOW

  • Co-creation design & framework

  • Collaborative governance & urban strategies

  • Pilots framework

  • Capacity building

  • Communication


City level

Period of implementation

2014 - ongoing

Core vision

In order to foster innovation and promoting social inclusion, the City of Milan has welcomed external incitements on the topic of the sharing economy. The first step came from outside the administration, with the birth of Sharexpo: Milan shared city for Expo 2015, launched by a group of foundations, research centers and observatories. The starting idea was to make a collective reasoning around the sharing economy, in order to provide inputs for its regulation and support across the city. The project originated in the event Sharitaly (the first edition held in November 2013), the first national event on the topic. The event was followed by a number of round tables involving a large variety of local actors, which in turn led to the creation of a Steering Committee and to the elaboration, in 2014, of the Sharexpo official launch document. Importantly, the document identified critical issues and opportunities in five sectors (mobility, hospitality, food, leisure and work), as well as areas for improvements in regulatory, cultural and organizational dimensions. Based on this work, actively supported by the Municipality throughout its development, a public consultation was launched in 2014, which brought the City to the adoption, in the same year, of the ‘Milan Sharing City’ initiative. A set of specific guidelines were approved as an integral part of the initiative, representing the foundation of a series of experiments carried out by the City in the following years. Furthermore, in November 2016, Milan hosted the Eurocities annual conference on “Sharing Cities”, on the ground of its prominent position in acknowledging the potential of the sharing economy and in developing policies endorsed by its citizens around the shared economy principle. Lastly, in November 2018 the Municipality of Milan joined the Sharing Cities Declaration (Sharing Cities 2018), signed by 30 cities across the globe.

Governance and implementation

In its overall architecture and design, 'Milan Sharing City' largely exemplifies the general approach that has characterised the City's policy-making (and governance approach) over the past few years, especially vis-à-vis emerging trends, such as the sharing or the circular economy. Often via pioneering policies which have not remained stuck in the fear of failure, the City of Milan has been actively tackling major urban challenges, positioning itself as a vibrant lab of experimentation which is increasingly acknowledged as a benchmark both across Italy and beyond. Milan Sharing City can be considered as an overarching initiative that provides a framework of reference for all sharing economy-related projects in the city, which in turn connects to the broader Milan Smart City strategy.

The overall objective of Milan Sharing City is to identify and promote a set of actions aimed at transforming Milan into ´an institutional collaborative ecosystem, conductive to a sharing economy that is regulated, inclusive, fair and sustainable, and that provides the ground for enhancing and connecting local initiatives that are socially and economically viable and innovative´. A specific Action Plan has been elaborated as an integral part of the initiative, which clarifies the characteristics of sharing economy’s initiatives to be sustained, and establishes a set of objectives which, at its core, seek to create an enabling environment for the sharing economy, including via increased awareness-raising, capacity-building and better knowledge of the territory in terms of projects and organizations already active in the field. Importantly, the Action Plan also accounts for the need of achieving a better understanding of the impacts stemming from sharing economy’s practices and models, as a key precondition to develop effective and meaningful regulation that ensures a level playing field. Furthermore, the Plan aims to promote a system of quality recognition and validation of virtuous realities, while creating specific support measures and infrastructures for new entrepreneurship in the field.

Milan Sharing City has been the foundation of a set of experiments further implemented or supported by the Municipality, including:

  • CoHub: a physical space that offers free orientation and guidance about the opportunities stemming from the sharing economy, as well as specific training and consultancy services;

  • Civic crowfunding: an experimental approach launched by the City to support bottom-up proposals that contribute to sustainable and inclusive neighborhoods;

  • Sharing Economy Schools: a training programme dedicated to grassroots organizations;

  • Sharing Economy Catalogue: which provides a list of sharing economy operators in the city and the services offered. In turns, it builds on an extensive mapping of sharing economy projects and initiatives present in the city.

  • Qualified Coworking Services List and co-working vouchers - a register of coworking spaces accredited by the City, together with financial incentives to support the access to shared making and co-working facilities.

The Municipality has also worked extensively on R&I projects, utilising specific funding lines such as Horizon 2020 to allow larger scale experimentations and testing. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the Sharing Cities H2020 project, which aims to develop smart solutions and pilot projects in the energy, transport and ICT sectors to improve citizens’ quality of life. This project specifically targets specific city districts, where the application of cutting-edge technologies shall contribute to create real "open-air labs" of urban regeneration and innovation. This project is also an example of how the City looks at sharing practices within a broader vision of smart city, recalling the key role to be played by citizens to achieve long lasting impacts. Moreover, at the local level, the project relies on an extensive network spanning businesses, universities, research centres, social economy organizations and grassroots associations, witnessing the clear commitment of the Municipality to facilitate and support multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaborations.

Furthermore, the Municipality has worked to enhance and valorise its physical infrastructures, particularly in the context of urban regeneration processes that have been directed towards the creation of spaces for social innovation, social inclusion and social business that also work as smart city living labs. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the recent Manifattura Milano programme, which aims to bring manufacturing back to the city also via the creation of a structured network of fablabs and makerspaces.

Lastly, coherently with its Smart City and Urban Resilience policies, Milan has made proactive efforts to develop sharing mobility models, with current plans to develop a macro sharing mobility project which will cover the sharing of a variety of transportation means, including cars, motorbikes, bikes, hoverboards, etc. This groundbreaking mobility strategy is enabling Milan, which has one of the highest car ownership rates in Europe, rise to its congestion challenge. Innovative integrated sharing schemes mean fewer cars on the road and better quality of life for all. This project won the EUROCITIES award for innovation in 2015.

Results, impacts and learnings

Milan Sharing City is a valuable example of how the Municipality is increasingly attempting to set in place collaborative governance frameworks. Over time, the City has been investing heavily in the development of a culture of collaboration, both internally and externally. The creation of cross-departmental bodies and units, as well as of specific task forces dedicated to ‘hot topics’ such as data, urban resilience, urban manufacturing (to mention a few) has been pursued alongside integration of vertical policies, so as to streamline a shared vision across city officials. In addition, the Municipality has made recourse to external consultants and international advisors, such as in the case of sharing economy expert April Rynne. The need to train staff and to collaborate with experts on the topic is considered as one of the basic preconditions to starting a meaningful discourse on the sharing city.

Furthermore, the focus on multi-stakeholder collaboration pursued by the City is particularly evident, especially when it comes to the key role to be played by public institutions. The path leading to the Milan Sharing City initiative demonstrates, once again, the participatory and open contributory nature of policy-making adopted by the Municipality, as well as its capacity to steer an overall ‘community of practice’ approach. City officials often refer to Milan as a ‘Human Smart City’, a label that stresses the importance given to the human factor rather than one of technology, which remains an enabling element but not the ultimate goal.


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