"Smart” cities are complex systems and often have at their heart “smart” institutions – but what evidence is there that HEIs are real partners in transformation?

By mid-century, 80% of the world’s population will live in urban conurbations undergoing rapid transformation by new disruptive technologies.  Connected devices, sensor technologies and ‘the internet of things’ will revolutionise transport, public health and energy services, creating greater prosperity and opportunity for many but, also, increased poverty and exclusion for others. The most urgent challenge facing the world’s growing cities is how to capitalise on the significant opportunities for growth and development while, at the same time, promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity for their inhabitants.

So, what do higher education institutions contribute to meeting that challenge?

This round-table discussion is introduced by new research into 8 developing ‘smart’ cities in Europe and the role of their HEIs. It raises questions that are globally relevant. Civic leaders, HEIs and the audience are invited to debate:

  • As primary knowledge producers, are HEIs providing relevant knowledge to drive sustainable transformation? How do they manage the cross disciplinary approaches needed and how does their international research contribute?
  • HEIs are both major employers and suppliers of skilled labour. Are they delivering graduates with relevant skills? As major employers, what role are they playing in driving prosperity?
  • Can HEIs help to bring positive social change and improved quality of life for all? What do they contribute to the development ofhuman-centred technological, policy, and design strategies?
  • How effective are HEIs as partners? What relationships do they have with civic and business leaders and how well do they balance their own agendas with those of partners?