On the 10th of June, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) celebrated its first anniversary. UKRI was created in order to bring together the 7 Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England and operate a combined budget of over £7 billion.
The official celebration was hosted by the University of Leeds in an event that focused on cities of the future. A truly interdisciplinary topic brought together scientists, social scientist and policy makers to discuss ways in addressing the challenge of designing cities that work.
By 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. According to Nicola Yates (@CPCatapult), the Chief Executive of Connected Places Catapult, this will have a significant positive effect on productivity but comes together with big challenges. Managing environmental resources, especially water and sanitation, in an efficient way is one of those challenges according to Joseph Holden (@geojho), Pro-Dean for Research & Innovation at the University of Leeds. These challenges cannot be seen in isolation and a holistic approach is required to effectively address them was argued by Rachel Cooper (@RachelFDCooper), Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University. Whilst a significant part of solutions come from a technocratic perspective we should not forget that cities are living entities with cultures and values which have to be considered in any proposed solution was highlighted by Jaideep Gupte (@JaiGupte), Challenge Leader, Cities and Sustainable Infrastructure Portfolio for UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund. Finally, Tom Riordan (@tomriordan), Chief Executive for Leeds City Council, presented the case of Leeds where a number of the above points were carefully considered when designing development policies at the local level.
The event showcased the complexity surrounding the issue of development of cities that work and the need for interdisciplinary work. Social Sciences have a fundamental role to play in successfully solving these global challenges and the South East Network of Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (@SeNSSDTP) is making its contribution by offering a stimulating environment to future researchers.