Urban Living Partnership

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The Research Councils/Innovate UK Urban Living Partnership will harness UK research and innovation strength to help cities realise a vision of healthy, prosperous and sustainable living.

  • The Urban Living Partnership will work with UK cities to identify, understand and address key challenges and opportunities.
  • It will bring together cross-disciplinary research expertise, local government, service delivery agencies, urban communities and innovative business within individual cities to co-produce and test practical solutions.
  • The initial phase will support UK pilot city projects in demonstrating the potential impact of the Partnership.
  • The ambition is to scale up the Partnership to a UK programme with international reach; positioning the UK as a global leader in urban research and innovation, and supporting sustainable urban growth for UK cities.


Cities have an intensity that drives innovation, creativity and economic activity and successful cities are critical to the future of humankind. In the UK, 80% of us live in urban areas and 61% of UK growth is generated by city regions. By 2050 nearly three-quarters of the global population will live in urban areas and cities already account for up to 80% of global GDP. It is essential that they work effectively and are desirable places to live.

As the world becomes more urban, interconnected issues of congestion, poverty, disease, and food and water supply, become increasingly significant. The challenge is to maintain the benefits of urban living whilst managing its downsides; to maintain equilibrium between growth, strong and efficient infrastructure and social and environmental well-being.

This is a global challenge and the complexity of future urban living is beyond any single business, sector or discipline. Each city also has its own history, cultural and industrial heritage, and diversity of community, assets and constraints, all of which must be reflected in its vision.

RCUK/Innovate UK Urban Living Partnership

The Research Councils and Innovate UK already support a significant range of urban living related activities across a broad spectrum of research areas and sectors. Building upon this existing strength, the Urban Living Partnership will create a fully integrated approach that will enhance UK global leadership, accelerate the exploitation of leading-edge research knowledge and capabilities, create new products, services and business opportunities, and co-produce sustainable change in urban living to benefit cities and their communities. It will exploit synergies with, and increase the impact of, current and planned investments across the Research Councils’ and Innovate UK’s programmes, including the Future Cities Catapult and UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).

The first step is to create pilot city projects, bringing together researchers, civic authorities and business leaders to stimulate collaborative working and innovation. Within each city there will be an initial diagnostic phase to holistically asses the unique challenges and opportunities. The aim is to support further phases to co-produce innovative solutions to these challenges, to realise each city’s future vision for urban living, and to support the exchange of learning and approaches with other cities.