UCL News


Research into cities of the future to be boosted with new London centre

10 November 2011

London has moved a step closer towards becoming a global leader in future cities research today after UCL, Imperial College London and Cisco entered into a three year initial agreement to create a Future Cities Centre in the capital.

UCL quad

The centre will be a physical space in Shoreditch where businesses, academics and start-ups can openly collaborate. It will be part of Tech City, which is the fastest growing technology cluster in Europe, and it will seek to bring a world-leading research presence and collaborative working to the emerging Tech City ecosystem.

The Future Cities Centre will focus on the thematic areas of Future Cities and Mobility, Smart Energy Systems, the Internet of Things and Business Model Innovation. It will form a major node of Cisco's National Virtual Incubator, which is a sustainable public technology network that promises to stimulate entrepreneurship by connecting physical sites through IT infrastructure.

Under today's agreement, new Research Associates from Imperial and UCL will co-locate in the new facilities, where they will embark on new research activities whilst also drawing on the institutions' existing research excellence.

The Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "Today's announcement from Cisco, UCL and Imperial that they are collaborating to establish a Future Cities Centre is very  important for Tech City, and for innovation in the UK more generally. Harnessing the extraordinary power of our research communities, and the innovation and commercialisation potential that comes from working with great companies likes Cisco, holds great potential for growth."

Today's announcement from Cisco, UCL and Imperial that they are collaborating to establish a Future Cities Centre is very important for Tech City, and for innovation in the UK more generally.

David Willetts

Professor Steve Caddick, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) of UCL, commented: "UCL is delighted to enter into this exciting new collaboration with Cisco and Imperial College London. It is well accepted that ICT revolution has the potential to transform more traditional industries such as infrastructure, utilities, energy, transport, healthcare and others and this represents an enormous new multi-trillion dollar market. The establishment of this Future Cities Centre will allow us to combine the world leading research strengths of our respective organisations to realise this opportunity which will play a key role in economic recovery and growth for the UK"

At UCL, where researchers will be working on how digital technologies can boost the capabilities of the energy, health, transport and utility resources in our cities, Prof. Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of UCL Engineering and Professor of Software Systems Engineering, commented "future cites are where physical and virtual meet, and the challenges of engineering at that interface will be among those we hope to address in the centre, getting this right in the urban environment can change the world" 

Professor Alan Penn, Dean of the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies and Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing, added: "The UK leads the world in architectural design and innovative engineering with the worlds leading firms based here. As the world gears up for climate change the market in city building and retrofit is set to run into trillions per annum. Growth in this sector will be extremely rapid. It is tremendously exciting to be working with Imperial and Cisco to build UCL's urban research into the Tech City initiative."

Professor John Polak, Director of Research, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chairman, Centre for Transport Studies, Imperial College London noted that: "The Future Cities Centre will be a new research powerhouse to drive the Tech City initiative. By linking to some of our major research initiatives focused on cities…we will address key national priorities such as climate change and digital innovation."


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Tech City coverage in the FT