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Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures

Knowledge and Innovation

How can cities and regions best harness the strengths of knowledge, science and technology for economic and social benefit at multiple scales?

SURF is committed to working with and for local, national and international agencies to best understand the conditions for effective knowledge exchange between research and practice at different scales of action.

Our work has been influential in developing understanding of the nature, role and significance of sub-national science and innovation policies in the knowledge economy. A critical contribution has been in the examination of the appropriate roles of different actors, including universities and the private sector, in delivering sustainable knowledge-based change in and for cities and regions.

Cities and regions have a role to play in addressing the challenges of building knowledge-based futures. Yet global forces are mediated through different international, national, sub-national and institutional contexts to shape the ways in which pressures for change manifest on the ground.

Cities and regions must provide fertile contexts in which the aims of global competitiveness and local relevance come together. This requires a nuanced understanding of how multi-sector, multi-organisational partnerships can collaborate to build innovation eco-systems and urban knowledge arenas and the kinds of intermediaries that are needed for effective knowledge exchange.

Central questions in our ongoing research agenda include:

  • How can we understand, in comparative context, the processes of building science cities and regions?
  • Where is the spatial focus of knowledge-based urban and regional development and with what consequences for social cohesiveness and equity?
  • What are the roles of universities and businesses in the knowledge economy, in relation to their international and local roles and their commitment to excellence and relevance?
  • How can different knowledge and expertise be harnessed to build urban knowledge arenas or innovation ecosystems?
  • What forms of organisations, types of personnel and ways of working are necessary to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships for city/regional benefit?
  • How can cities, regions and their organisations better capture learning lessons to improve the effectiveness of public policy and build more sustainable urban futures?