People living in the cities of Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Gateshead and York will benefit from a new research and innovation initiative that puts them in the driving seat to help improve their cities' health, wellbeing and prosperity as they face up to challenges of modern urban living.
Bristol has been awarded funding for the Bristol Urban Area Diagnostics Pilot, a collaboration between Bristol Health Partners, the University of Bristol, the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council, the Bristol Green Capital Partnership and other partners. The project will address the fundamental issue of what is stopping Bristol from bridging the gap between its current situation and desired future as encapsulated in the city's various visions and aspirations.
Working with the local communities, the project partners will work together to create an innovative integrated diagnostic framework to address the city's urban challenges across four 'challenge themes' including mobility and accessibility, health and happiness, equality and inclusion and the carbon neutral city.
The project has been awarded a £825,000 share of £3.9 million research funding, allocated through Phase One of the Urban Living Partnership, a first-of-its-kind investment by the seven UK Research Councils and the government's innovation agency, Innovate UK. Taking a 'whole city' approach, the Urban Living Partnership brings together a unique body of expertise cutting across over 20 disciplines including civil engineering, environmental management, geography, computer science, planning, psychology, management, arts and humanities, the creative industries and health sciences.
The Bristol Urban Area project brings citizens together with university researchers, local authorities and partners from business and the third sector, aimed at rewriting the blueprint for the evolution of our city living. Local partners will be providing half of the project value awarded in research council funding though match funding contributions.
Announcing the launch of the Urban Living Partnership projections nationally, Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, said:
“At their best, cities drive innovation, cultural and economic activity and social integration, however they also face increasing challenges, such as overheating, congestion, poor supply of water and the removal of waste. These new projects will combine business acumen with academic talent and community leadership to help tackle these issues and ensure the continued prosperity in five of our greatest cities.”
Professor Graham Parkhurst, Centre for Transport and Society, UWE Bristol, said:
“The Bristol/South Gloucestershire ULP represents an established and close grouping of academic, public authority, civil society and business organisations which has already shown a marked and effective common purpose in its delivery of the recent European Green Capital year and is set to devise sector-leading sustainability and wellbeing solutions for citizens through the new project.”
Professor Jim Longhurst, UWE Bristol Assistant Vice Chancellor and interim Chair of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership will lead the carbon neutral theme. He said:
“I am delighted at this award which will let the city region build upon the many achievements of the European Green Capital year and further strengthen the partnership working between Bristol institutions. This project will allow us to identify the critical next steps in creating a low carbon city with a high quality of life for all.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said:
“Bristol is one of the UK's leading smart cities and enjoys much economic and cultural success. However this success doesn't reach everybody, so projects like this can really help inform the way we close the inequality gaps and create a better Bristol for everybody. “I am very keen to work collaboratively across sectors and traditional boundaries in the interest of the city as a whole. This is perfectly in tune with that aspiration and I look forward to supporting the partnership in its work.”
The Bristol Urban Area Diagnostics Pilot is a year project and will begin in June 2016.The project is led by University of Bristol (Principal Investigator Professor Colin Taylor) and University of the West of England. The other 14 project partners are: Arup; Bristol City Council; Bristol Cultural Development Partnership / Festival of ideas; Bristol Green Capital Partnership; Bristol Health Partners; Buro Happold; Business West; Future Cities Catapult; Knowle West Media Centre; PricewaterhouseCoopers; RSA (Royal Society for Arts); South Gloucestershire Council; Watershed Media Centre; West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.