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School of Social and Political Science: Research


Smart Urban Intermediaries – Trans-European Research, Learning, and Action

Principal Investigator:

Dr Oliver Escobar



Urban neighbourhoods are sustained and mobilised by networks of key individuals who forge connections between communities and the institutions of urban governance, and work between these different institutions and different communities. This project aims to surface the often hidden contribution of these urban intermediaries as catalysts for smart urban development and crucial complements to technological and structural fixes, through introducing an emphasis on intermediation and collaboration practices for social innovation. Building on systematic, comparative and empirical pilot research already conducted in three European countries, this project addresses how urban intermediaries work to facilitate interactive urban governance and foment vibrant, accessible and inclusive communities. Anchored in urban neighbourhoods and networks in four European cities – Birmingham, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Amsterdam – the multi-method research design and learning infrastructure of local and transnational ‘living labs’, provides a platform to reach, involve and impact trans-European user communities through the co-creation of trans-disciplinary knowledge, conceptual insights, strategic options and practical means for the facilitation of smart urban development. In short, we will advance knowledge of the role of urban intermediaries and their collaborations; co-create a local and trans-national European learning infrastructure and generate debate on the contribution of intermediation.

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