This project sets out to understand how people seek to make a difference in urban neighbourhoods


Smart Urban Intermediaries (SmartUrbI) is a research project that puts those individuals who make connections and bring people and resources together in creative ways at the heart of urban development. We call these individuals, ‘smart urban intermediaries’ and this research sets out to understand how they make a difference in urban neighbourhoods.

A ‘smart urban intermediary’ could be someone who is committed over time to making a difference in their neighbourhood, campaigns on a local issue, supports people to act together, works for social change or helps to solve local problems.

They may be employed in public bodies or in the delivery of public services or in a social enterprise or a community or voluntary organization. They may be from, or represent, communities, for example as councillors, active citizens or community leaders.

We are interested in what ‘smart urban intermediaries’ do, how they do it and the difference it makes in neighbourhoods: so, how they develop and sustain their work, how they make connections within, between and across communities and formal organisations and bring together people and resources.

Over the next two years, we will work across four European cities – Birmingham, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Glasgow to:

  • Identify and work with up to ten ‘smart urban intermediaries’ in each city
  • Develop a local ‘living lab’ to bring interested intermediaries and other stakeholders together
  • Offer opportunities for international learning and dialogue across Europe
  • Share learning and practical ideas on how to support ‘smart urban intermediaries’


Tilburg University

The Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration (TSPPA) has an international reputation in studies of local democracy and governance. It has conducted research for a broad range of commissioning parties, at European, national, regional and local level.

The University of Edinburgh

The School of Social and Political Science is a world leader in social science. Its international community of students and staff undertake a wide variety of learning, teaching, research and engagement activities.

Roskilde University

The Roskilde School of Governance is one of the leading European research units on network governance. It promotes state of the art research on public policy and governance and is known for collaborating actively with practice.

University of Birmingham

The Institute of Local Government Studies  in the University of Birmingham, is the leading UK centre for the study of local public service management, policy and governance. With over 40 years of experience working within local government and the public sector, the Institute of Local Government Studies creates the latest thinking for public servants.

Danish Town Planning Institute

The Danish Town Planning Institute (DTPI) is a private, independent institution that aims to showcase urban and regional planning in Denmark. DTPI addresses town planners, students, public authorities and interested citizens who wish to know more about town planning.


Centre for Social Studies, Coimbra University
City of Copenhagen
Center for Citizen Dialogue
Gate 21
Landelijk Samenwerkingsverband Actieve bewoners
Landelijk Platform voor Buurt – en wijkgericht werken
Research Center for Social Innovation
Glasgow City Council
Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector
Scottish Community Development Centre
Scotland’s Regeneration Forum (SURF)
Inspiring Scotland
Department for Communities and Local Government
National Association for Neighbourhood Management
Birmingham City Council
Citizens UK, Birmingham
SmartUrban_Buildings and Trees-1