Future Cities: UK Capabilities for Urban Innovation
This report provides an overview of the UK’s capabilities for urban innovation by illustrating examples of activities led by businesses, universities and research institutions, and city governments and other civic organisations. Through case studies the report highlights the exportable products and services that have emerged from the UK’s future cities innovation ecosystem.
The report describes capabilities relevant to urban innovation and categorises them into five types: spatial, physical, digital, commercial and social. In practise these capabilities usually work in combination to deliver innovation. By distinguishing them into five types this report provides a framework for identifying the range of industries involved in the development of urban solutions.
The report also defines the actors behind these capabilities, including business, research and civic actors, which together constitute the ecosystem necessary for urban innovation.
Our urban future demands innovation. Cities are at the front‑line in responding to global challenges of resource scarcity, climate change, unemployment, and ageing populations. While these are big challenges, they also present major new business and innovation opportunities.
Urban innovation is happening and city development is changing course. Cities are using new technologies, new business and financial models and innovative design approaches to provide their citizens with a good quality of life within a thriving economy, and with a reduced environmental footprint.
Professionals across industries and sectors are collaborating to create solutions. Rather than working in disciplinary silos to optimise systems in isolation, they are considering the city as a whole to maximise cross‑sector synergies and avoid negative unintended consequences.
This overview of the UK’s capabilities is illustrative rather than comprehensive. Case studies, interviews and analysis of existing data have been used to highlight specific activities, products and services, but the illustrations are far from exhaustive and do not represent the complete range of innovative activities in the UK relevant to the needs of the world’s cities.
The report was commissioned by the Future Cities Catapult. The underlying research was provided by Arup. Supporting quantitative analysis on UK business activity was provided by The Work Foundation.