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People in the driving seat as minister announces £3.9 million urban regeneration partnerships

Date: 20/05/2016

People living in the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle & Gateshead and York will benefit from a new research and innovation initiative that puts them in the driving seat to help improve their cities’ health, wellbeing and prosperity as they face up to challenges of modern urban living.

Phase one of the Urban Living Partnership, a first-of-its-kind investment by the seven UK Research Councils and the government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, brings citizens together with university researchers, local authorities and over 70 partners from business and the third sector in five multidisciplinary pilot initiatives aimed at rewriting the blueprint for the evolution of our city living.

Taking a ‘whole city’ approach the initiative brings together a unique body of expertise cutting across over 20 disciplines including civil engineering, computer science, planning, psychology, management, arts and humanities, the creative industries and health sciences.

Partners to the £3.9 million first phase of the initiative are contributing over £1.9 million and include: IBM UK Ltd, Arup, Atkins Global, The Environment Agency, Natural England and the Future Cities Catapult.

Announcing the launch of the initiative, Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, said: “At their best, cities drive innovation, cultural and economic activity and social integration. However, they also face increasing challenges, such as overheating, congestion, poor supply of water and the removal of waste. These new projects will combine business acumen with academic talent and community leadership to help tackle these issues and ensure the continued prosperity in five of our greatest cities.”

While each project faces distinct challenges, they also share common goals – such as empowering citizens to co-design their future cities, and finding ways to turn grand challenges into mutually beneficial business opportunities, leading to greater health, wellbeing and prosperity.

A key feature of these projects is their diversity, spanning disciplines and sectors. The Newcastle partnership, for example, includes among its partners Newcastle City Council; The Royal Society for Arts North East; Tyne and Wear Urban Traffic Management Centre; TechCity; the Federation of Small Businesses; the Newcastle Schools Forum; Northumbrian Water; and IBM Europe’s Intelligent Operations and Resilience programme – which provides data visualisation and deep analytics to help city agencies enhance their efficiency and planning.

Gary Grub, Associate Director of Programmes at the AHRC, said: “It’s great to see the arts and humanities so strongly represented in the response to the call for inter-disciplinary consortia to conduct the pilot phase and that the five pilots incorporate insights from arts and humanities research into their holistic diagnostic approach. The strong focus on community participation across all of the pilots resonates strongly with the AHRC-led Connected Communities Programme whilst a number of the individual pilot projects connect with AHRC priority areas such as design, heritage and the creative economy”.

Ends

Further details are available on the RCUK website.

For media enquiries contact:

EPSRC Press Office, Tel: 01793 444 404, e-mail: pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

The RCUK/Innovate UK Urban Living Partnership

The Urban Living Partnership brings together all seven Research Councils and Innovate UK to promote integrated research and innovation to address the challenges faced by urban areas in the UK and to help them realise their visions for future urban living.

The five pilot consortia, announced today, were selected following peer review after an open competitive call for proposals submitted by 41 consortia.

Each of the five consortia is expected to conduct an initial pilot diagnostic phase focused on building integrated understanding of the challenges, opportunities and future visions of a specific UK city/urban area and developing agendas for future research and innovation.

About Research Councils UK (RCUK)

RCUK is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society’s challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK’s research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are SMEs; and providing intelligence for policy making. Find out more about our work at www.rcuk.ac.uk

The seven UK Research Councils are:

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Innovate UK works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy – delivering productivity, new jobs and exports. Our aim at Innovate UK is to keep the UK globally competitive in the race for future prosperity.

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