UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


UCL researchers collaborate with the Greater London Authority to address the future needs of London

20 February 2023

UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering researchers will work as a ‘Learning Partner’ to the GLA’s new Open Innovation Lab

St. Paul's London by night

GLA/UCL Open Innovation Learning Lab: Piloting a Learning Partner approach to capture value creation in Open Innovation to address climate and health policy goals

Researchers Julie McLaren and Dr Gemma Moore have secured UCL Public Policy Funding to support a collaboration between the Greater London Authority (GLA) Economic Strategy and Innovation Team. The funding will enable a pilot for UCL to work as a ‘Learning Partner’ to the GLA’s new Open Innovation Lab with the aim of enhancing the co-production of knowledge and collaborative innovation practice in response to urban climate and health challenges.

The GLA’s Open Innovation Lab aims to address local priorities to build a greener, fairer city based on a more sustainable model of growth. The objectives of the Lab align well with IEDE’s objectives to help cities improve environmental sustainability and health by focusing on local priorities and city-scale actions. GLA invited researchers to be collaborators in the Lab as a Learning Partner to share capacity and capabilities for research.

Our partnering approach offers a holistic approach to learning both for and with policy partners utilizing co-production methods. It is hoped that as a Learning Partner they will accelerate knowledge building and exchange activities through:

  • connecting the urban systems and innovation activities between the GLA, UCL and other partners;
  • co-producing research, initiatives, and innovation outcomes to enhance the City’s achievement of health and climate change goals;
  • delivering a constructive, dynamic relationship between the GLA and UCL, on policy development and implementation.

Through initial scoping and conversations with the GLA, the researchers have spotted an opportunity for their first piece of work: to co-produce a value framework for GLA’s open innovation initiatives. A key challenge in re-orienting innovation activities is capturing the learning and value generated from these ways of working. This framework will capture a broader spectrum of ‘value’ than standard (economic) metrics dominant in policy making. It will include but also go beyond desk-based exercises to mapping value, by engaging directly with stakeholders participating in a ‘real time’ open innovation challenges or design sprints. 

This work reflects a maturing relationship with the GLA, linked to the CUSSH project, and builds upon work undertaken via an ESPRC Public Policy Rapid Response grant (2021) and internal UCL Public Policy award (2022).   The CUSSH project is part of the Complex Built Environment Systems group (CBES) which is an EPSRC-funded Platform grant, led by Professor Mike Davies. CBES is primarily interested in developing solutions to practical problems in urban areas that have implications for energy use, health, conservation, productivity, and climate change. CUSSH delivers policy-engaged, collaborative research on the systems that connects urban development to these challenges.

The pilot focused on co-producing a value framework for open innovation in addressing climate and health challenges, aligns with CUSSH objectives to help cities enhance their capabilities for addressing such challenges through city-scale actions. This includes strategies for embedding learning to reorienting their policy practice to address these complex challenges.

This project will also contribute learnings to the Research England Funded Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE) project.


  • For more information contact Julie McLaren by email 

  • To learn more about the CUSSH project, go here.

  • To learn more about the Research England Funded Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE) project, go here.


Image credit: Nikita Khandelwal / pexels.com