UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Cities and place-based innovation

IIPP works with public sector institutions and local government actors to advance purpose-led urban innovation in cities through new forms of policy design, finance tools and governance frameworks.

Cities and place based missions


Urban leaders and decision-makers are facing a range of urgent challenges. From the shortage of affordable housing to the climate crises to widening spatial and economic inequality, these challenges require new forms of investment, governance, and capabilities to achieve innovations that create public purpose outcomes. This form of urban innovation must bring the public sector together with the private sector and civil society to collaborate and produce inclusive, sustainable and equitable transformation. Achieving these types of outcomes demands strategic design and approaches to direct dynamic change to steer urban innovation towards meeting societal objectives.  

IIPP works closely with and advises a number of cities, place-based public sector organisations and leaders across the globe to advance transformative urban initiatives. We do this using cutting edge theoretical and evidence-based insights surrounding mission-oriented policies, innovative urban finance, value creation approaches and experimental institutional designs.  

IIPP’s work on urban innovation explores some of the critical barriers that restrict the ability of public sector organisations to facilitate transformational change and helps those actors design solutions for overcoming such challenges. Through our work using mission-oriented innovation and patient finance at the local level, we are helping cities develop new capabilities, redesign institutions, create innovative finance mechanisms and construct collaborative governance frameworks to address strategic grand challenges. 

Council on Urban Initiatives  

The Council on Urban Initiatives was established in 2021 in response to the UN Secretary General, António Guterres’ call to use the pandemic as an ‘opportunity to reflect and reset how we live in, interact with and rebuild our cities.’  Co-organised by UN-Habitat, the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) and LSE Cities, the Council is comprised of mayors, academics and practitioners, co-chaired by Ricky Burdett and Mariana Mazzucato. The Council serves as a research and advocacy platform supporting international, national and local actors to deliver transformative shifts towards a better urban future. The Council’s work is centred on three intersectional themes: environmental sustainability (the green city), health and well-being (the healthy city), and social justice (the just city).  It draws on the experience of urban and national leaders on the Council - representing Barcelona, Bogotá, Mexico City, New Orleans, Gaziantep, Freetown, Singapore and Paraguay - and unique perspectives on political economy, urban design, and social inclusion in global cities. 


Op-eds and media highlights
Publication highlights



For more information on our work on cities and place-based innovation, please contact Isadora Spillman-Schappell, Cities Programme Manager.