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Wed, 11 Oct


ZOOM: 929 0185 5218

How Cities Learn: Living Labs, Participation, Transformation

Speaker: Prof. James Evans Registration:

How Cities Learn: Living Labs, Participation, Transformation
How Cities Learn: Living Labs, Participation, Transformation

Time & Location

11 Oct 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm HKT

ZOOM: 929 0185 5218

About the event


Cities hold the key to addressing multiple societal challenges, from health and climate change to productivity and inequality. Yet there are massive gaps in understanding and action. How do we steer urban development to reduce inequalities and enable communities to flourish? How do we scale up innovations like active travel to improve population health and sustainability at the metropolitan scale? How can we mainstream models of urban innovation and development that work with communities?

Such challenges have prompted a growing focus on demonstration and pilot projects to trial more sustainable forms of urban development. These range from positive energy districts and smart grids through to bike share schemes and libraries of things. Even when successful though, such projects often fail to scale up and drive the wider transformation of cities. In the face of these difficulties, attention is turning to the processes through which urban change can be steered.

This seminar examines urban living labs as arguably the most influential quadruple helix partnership model for urban innovation. It explains their emergence, appeal, and evolution into different forms, drawing on first-hand experiences managing urban living labs in EU and UK funded research projects over the past ten years. Despite their promise as a way to produce collaborative, place-based and actionable forms of knowledge, urban living labs have struggled to engage local communities and scale up innovations.

The seminar argues that the concept of learning is essential for urban living labs to address genuine needs and create pathways to scaling up. Taking learning seriously prompts a broader consideration of what distinguishes urban innovation from innovation in more orthodox settings. The seminar concludes by considering the implications for urban transformation more broadly, and the role of universities in supporting it.

About the Speaker:

Prof. James Evans currently directs the Manchester Urban Institute at the University of Manchester. His research helps cities become smarter and more sustainable by using technology and data to support learning and transformation. His work on urban living labs and mobile methods has been foundational across the social sciences. He is passionate about the role of universities in delivering urban sustainability, working with hundreds of organisations around the world. He has led numerous applied interdisciplinary projects on this topic, generating more than £50 million of research and innovation funding and more than 100 publications. He is also Field Chief Editor for the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Cities and CEO of the university spin out company Urban 360 Ltd.

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