Urban Knowledge Exchange
Cities are turning to the knowledge base to enhance their own socio-economic development and build sustainable ecological futures.
Yet holistic, rather than piecemeal, frameworks for knowledge exchange at the urban level have been absent. Little is known about how to upscale innovative practices from smaller scale experiments to systemic changes in urban governance.
The critical challenge is to fill a ‘missing middle’ in knowledge exchange at the urban level by developing a context-sensitive framework of understanding and action.
There is an urgent need to improve the capacities and capabilities of urban areas to respond to the knowledge-based economy, climate change and resource constraint through bringing multiple partners together to increase social learning, share good practices and enhance policy transfer.
Our work focuses on the organizational and practical implications of working across sectors, scales, interests and forms of knowledge in the search for more effective policy and governance.
We are particularly interested in the knowledge needs for sustainability as cities seek to develop low carbon futures in their responses to climate change.
Attention is increasingly turning to the formation of innovative urban environments and urban knowledge arenas (UKAs). This involves concern for inter-institutional collaboration and the mutual constitution of needs between city-regional knowledge producers and consumers, as in the Greater Manchester Urban Knowledge Arena project. New forums at the city-regional level are needed for the generation of cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary knowledge about urban problems.
There are considerable challenges associated with addressing the demands for a sustainable, knowledge based economy in multi-actor, multi-level contexts. New intermediaries and ways of working between and within different interests are needed. Active intermediation requires developing greater intelligence based on an understanding of organisational and professional cultures and local contexts.
Knowledge exchange in the service of a range of policy areas, from innovation to sustainability, should be based on a realistic assessment of the relationship between policy frameworks, funding, governance and capacity to deliver. Examples are in relation to universities and their roles in local development and in intermediating between public and private interests in the production and consumption of new energy ‘fixes’.
Our agenda-shaping work for the Swedish Environmental Research Agency (Mistra) and for the ESRC have emphasized novel ways of funding and organising research to bring excellence and relevance together and to better understand the preconditions for knowledge exchange. We are now able to take this forward into a comparative research programme funded by MISTRA on urban sustainability, as part of the Mistra Urban Futures.
In our own work, we seek to put our findings into practice. We use placements, secondments, impact grants and formative evaluations to ensure that research is co-produced and leads to meaningful insights for policy and practice.
- Mistra Urban Futures
- Innovative Urban Environments
- Urban Knowledge for Shaping Critical Infrastructure
- Mistra Sustainable Urban Development Project
- Business and the Knowledge-Based Region
- Greater Manchester Urban Knowledge Arena
- European COST Action: Urban Knowledge Arenas
Click here to see all Active Projects.
- Urban Knowledge Arenas and Active Intermediaries Research and Policy Workshop, SURF and COST Action, 10th – 13th June 2009
- Cities, Innovation and Knowledge, SURF, 11th June 2009.
- Researching Inbetweeness: Understanding the Transformative Role of Intermediaries, SURF, 22nd – 23rd September 2005
Click here to see all Events.
- Taking Urban Knowledge Exchange Seriously: Devilish Dichotomies and Active Intermediaries (2010): Journal Article.
- Active Intermediaries for Effective Knowledge Exchange Pamphlet (2009): Pamphlet.
- Glossary of Intermediaries (2008): Research Note.
Click here to see all Publications.