The First Urban Transformations Call
In 2015, four research projects were granted almost £3 million in funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – the first major call that came out of the newly formed urban transformations initiative. The projects explored issues around social innovation, creative living and urban economies internationally, bringing new perspectives to the challenges and opportunities facing UK and global urban areas as they seek to achieve urban growth against a backdrop of pressures on public funding and other challenges.
The projects included the following:
- Governing the future city: a comparative analysis of governance innovations in large scale urban developments in Shanghai, London, Johannesburg: This explored how governments can manage urban development in an inclusive way with limited resources, how communities support one another in the face of huge changes, and how developers are playing a growing role in governance.
- Jam and justice: co-producing urban governance for social innovation: This sought to bring public, voluntary and academic sectors together to innovate and experiment in new ways of governing cities. It aims to advance both the theory and practice of co-production in addressing challenges faced by modern cities.
- Structural transformation, adaptability and city economic evolutions: This examined the uneven economic growth paths of some 70 British cities over the past 40 years, and in some cases over a much longer period, focussing on different patterns and speeds of structural transformation and adaptation. Using 10 case study cities, it will also investigated how local forms of governance and policy interventions have influenced how cities adapt in a world of rapid economic change and increasingly devolved decision making.
- The Urban Politics and Governance of Social Innovation in Austerity: By investigating the impact of contrasting experiences of austerity on urban politics and governance in European cities, the project will examine how cities in the UK, Germany and Greece have faced challenges of generating financial resources, harnessing social energy and meeting material needs. It will promote social innovation in Europe by sharing knowledge and experience between cities.