UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


MPA Final Project

Our MPA degrees offer students the opportunity to work on real-world policy challenges

Watch our interview with MPA graduates, Maria Jarquin Solis, Sarah Turner and Simon Turner, to hear about their MPA Group Project experience:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf5z7ed9BQs


We partner with a range of organisations to offer applied learning projects. The most significant of these is the MPA Group or Individual Projects, the equivalent of a research thesis in an academic Masters programme. Each MPA Group or Individual will work with a partner organisation that has a genuine need to solve a particular policy challenge.

Previous partners include:

  • C40 Cities Group
  • ARUP
  • Transport Systems Catapult UK 
  • The British Standards Institution
  • The Greater London Authority
  • International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

Current MPA Group Projects


Global Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation (GO-SPIN)
Project title:Global Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation (GO-SPIN)
Team:Alessia Aquaro, Eduardo Carrillo Portillo, Maria Valenzuela Suarez, Manuel Calve, Catalina Frigerio Dattwyler, Maria-Paz Bravo Sandoval

UNESCO developed the Global Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation (GO-SPIN) project in order to strengthen the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) systems of its Member States. Through its on-line platform providing information on countries’ STI policies (https://gospin.unesco.org) and its methodological and training tools, GO-SPIN reinforces human capacities and supports policy-makers in STI policy development, monitoring and implementation. The project consists in conducting desktop studies, inventories, collection and analysis of STI policy and policy instruments related data and information in different countries, with focus on developing countries.

The work requires consultations and collaboration with different sectors including science-based ministries, governmental bodies, universities and research institutions, civil society representatives, with involvement in the design and implementation of STI policies.

Towards a reframing of STI for SDGs 
Project title:Towards a reframing of STI for SDGs
Team:Jodie McClintock, Mengchan Liu, Isla Kennedy, Ge Zhang, Yosuke Nagase

Within the framework of the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) and its Inter Agency Task Team (IATT), UNESCO is participating and co-leading with the World Bank, UN DESA, UNCTAD, and the EU Joint Research Centre, an initiative to develop STI for SDGs Roadmaps. Further to regional and international experts groups meetings, the workstream has developed a Guidebook for the preparation of the roadmaps and launched in July 2019 the Global Pilot Programme on Development of STI for SDGs roadmaps, with the implementation in five pilot countries (Ghana, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Serbia). UNESCO is coordinating the pilot activities in Ghana, providing support to the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. The project requires developing an understanding of the best practices of the IATT framework and country piloting as well as of the Ghana science policy landscape in order to best assist UNESCO and the Ghanaian government in their development, implementation and review of the roadmap process.

Spouseware: An analysis of stalking software deployed in intimate partner violence (IPV) situations
Title:Spouseware: An analysis of stalking software deployed in intimate partner violence (IPV) situations
Team:Jay Neuner, Thomas Bermudez, Maddalena Esposito

Spouseware, stalkerware or spyware describes a particular family of malicious software, intended to coerce, control, and monitor targeted users. Such software applications are frequently not explicitly advertised to surveil partners or other potentially affected persons; rather, they are commonly promoted to facilitate parental or employee control. The programmes are often secretly installed on devices such as phones, deployed without a victim’s knowledge and consent, and offer disguised surveillance features such as location tracking, web filters, and key loggers. There is a growing body of research on the topic. However, guidance for victims/survivors as well as support services remains scarce. The proposed group project, therefore, sets out analyse the global trend of intimate partner violence (IPV) surveillance tools as well as any applied technical, practitioner, and policy responses. The study is run in collaboration with Chayn, a volunteer network which addresses gender-based violence through the creation of intersectional survivor-led online resources. Students interested in joining this project should be aware that they will be exposed to references to gender-based violence/harassment across the project and that they are expected to be available for research activities throughout the summer. Strong quantitative and qualitative research skills are essential, and prior programming skills desired.


The research team (Maddalena Esposito, Thomas Bermudez, Jay Neuner) under the supervision of Dr Leonie Maria Tanczer will be carrying out semi-structured interviews and an online survey with self-identified researchers and experts. Respondents are expected to work (or have worked) on and around the topic of technology-facilitated domestic/sexual violence and abuse, cybersecurity, and policing. We invite a wide range of potential knowledgeable parties to participate in our study, including academic researchers, representatives from voluntary and statutory support organisations, industry stakeholders, as well as journalists. All gathered findings will be written up in a report for Chayn, with the research team also hoping to engage in presenting the results at academic/public conferences, workshops, and events. 

Key project outputs

Cyber Readiness for Boards
Title:Cyber Readiness for Boards
Client:Axelos; Resilia
Team:Vido Chandra Panduwinata, Kairbek Abdrakhmanov, Takahiro Fujita, Serik Almatov, Shintaro Ikeda

Although cyber threats are reported as one of the top concerns for both CEOs and investors, a recent survey by the NYSE Governance Services found that only 11% of corporate directors believed their boards possess a high level of understanding of cyber security risk. The challenges that boards face in this area have recently been recognised by the UK National Cyber Security Centre as a key risk and there is now a recognition that boards have not received the level of support necessary to meet the demands that cyber insecurity place on business. Axelos / Resilia, a joint venture company created in 2013 by the UK Cabinet Office and Capita, has a track record of providing high level training support to organisations seeking to improve their understanding of and behaviours relating to a number of common ‘human factor’ cyber risks. They now wish to develop specific ideas and concepts for what effective and engaging ‘training’ to boards and executive management teams could look like. The dynamic nature of the cybersecurity ecosystem means that the provision of support to boards must be constantly reviewed and updated. Consequently, Axelos / Resilia has partnered with the NCSC and a team of researchers based at UCL to look critically at their training provision and work to update them.

This project will provide students with an exceptional opportunity to work on policy within a private organisation (partnering with the Cyber Readiness for Boards project) in one of the most demanding and fast-moving elements of board decision making.

Regulatory and Standardisation Challenges for Connected and Intelligent Medical Devices
Title:Regulatory and Standardisation Challenges for Connected and Intelligent Medical Devices
Client:British Standards Institution (BSI); PETRAS
Team:Natalia Maj, Gabriella Ezeani, Malla Tedroff, Jiehui Song, Jan Sassenberg

Healthcare, medicinal therapies and medical devices represent an area that has received considerable regulatory oversight and stability in the past couple of decades, especially in established markets in Europe, North American and South-East Asia. Consumer protection centred on the safety and efficacy of medical therapies and devices have been crucial to successful regulatory frameworks and standardisation initiatives in healthcare, albeit perceived as inflexible by some market actors. However, new digital technologies/processes are currently disrupting these established and quasi-harmonised regulatory frameworks. The rise of connected fitness devices (e.g. Fitbit), connected medical devices (e.g. pacemakers) and devices using complex software systems based on Machine Learning/ Artificial Intelligence pose new challenges. In this group project, you will be working closely with the British Standards Institution (BSI) – the national standards body in the UK – to better understand, identify and offer recommendations about the current regulatory and standardisation gaps/ uncertainties resulting from the increased use of connected and intelligent medical devices.

In this project, the MPA group will conduct primary research to test some of the regulatory and standardisation gaps already identified by BSI – available here – and to identify new gaps and misalignments where standards-making bodies and regulators can intervene to ensure that new medical devices maintain a high degree of security, safety, transparency and accountability to those who deploy and use them. This is a highly important, life-saving area that requires novel thinking about the complex socio-technical opportunities and challenges that digital technologies in healthcare raise and where standards could offer stability and predictability in a changing market, when regulators/ policy-makers are struggling to catch up.

Key project outputs

Health systems strengthening and preparedness for global pandemics: an analysis of global and local health policy and practice
Title:Health systems strengthening and preparedness for global pandemics: an analysis of global and local health policy and practice
Client:DFID; World Health Organisation; Save the Children (UK)
Team:Alexandra Swanepoel, Xiaolu Zhang, Calum Savage, Katrina Barker, Arda Ozcubukcu

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and numerous global players such as the World Health Organisation, some pharmaceutical companies, product development partnerships and civil society organisations have worked with and through local partners in different parts of the world, in particular low-income countries, to strengthen health delivery systems.  Health systems consist of all organisations, people and actions whose primary interest is to promote, restore or maintain health, and are characterised by six building blocks, namely; service delivery, (ii) health workforce, (iii) health. information systems, (iv) access to essential medicines, (v) financing, and (vi) leadership/governance (WHO, 2007).

This project will look at the work of the DFID and its partners in three selected low-income countries with a view to understanding health system agility, preparedness and adjustments at decision-making and delivery levels, drawing lessons for both low- and high-income country health systems. 

Declaring a Climate Emergency 
Title:Declaring a Climate Emergency
Client:ARUP (Energy Team)
Team:Iris Somen, Jorge Jimenez Solomon, Anna-Mariya Kandzhova, Rodon Miraj, Okky Oktaviani, Lorena Cordero Maldonado

Globally, our current trajectory is moving us rapidly towards more than 2°C of warming, which for the UK will bring hotter, drier summers and milder, wetter winters with an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. The first half of 2019 has seen unprecedented global recognition that we are facing a 'Climate Emergency', with mass climate protests, school strikes, warnings from the Bank of England, and strong advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change urging the Government to commit to a new net zero carbon target 2050. Many Local Authorities in the UK are making the initial step of declaring a 'Climate Emergency'. However, there is no established or recognised pathway to delivering the actions required (e.g. deep energy efficiency retrofit of buildings, delivering low-carbon heat supply, supporting low-carbon transport modal shift) to achieve the overarching objective. There is limited understanding of the strategic process required and the appropriate delivery models to enable Local Authorities to deliver on their climate pledges.    Investigation into previous experiences of significant structural change in government operation (e.g. adoption of digital technology over last 20 years) could help to identify key lessons that could be applied to the Climate Emergency process. 

More specifically, the research may explore one or more of the following areas regarding how authorities: 

  • Achieve the necessary structural/organisational changes and what these may be  
  • Access additional/alternative funding streams  
  • Accelerate procurement processes  
  • Accelerate recruitment in specific skills areas (e.g. building energy retrofit)  
  • Achieve behavioural change of both government employees and residents (e.g. transport modal shift).
The use of circular economy approaches in the public realm
Title:The use of circular economy approaches in the public realm
Client:ARUP (Sustainability Assessments Team)
Team:Xiangru Chen, Edgardo Garcia Chaves, Stephanie Chow, Naomi Black
Brief:The shift from a traditional linear economy of making, using and disposing, to an alternative circular one that aims to minimise waste and make the most of resources has become increasingly widespread. In the construction industry public realm projects are required to be resilient and future-proofed in cost-effective ways to mitigate risks of resource depletion and landfill. A circular economy approach requires innovative thinking when it comes to design, procurement and in-use. When designing public realm projects, the whole lifecycles needs to be considered. The benefits of this approach can be achieved by changing the way the urban space is perceived, designed, constructed, operated, maintained and re-used. But how can circular economy principals be embedded in the public realm? What are the challenges designers and planning authorities face today? Is current policy strong enough to safeguard our public spaces for the future? How can the circular economy make public realm more sustainable?
Unsustainable consumption in cities (1)
Title:Unsustainable consumption in cities
Client:ARUP (Energy Team)
Team:Weiming Pan, Annie Amrhein, Yuh Shyuan Lee, Evita Moawad, Salman Khan, Ryan Leung

The consumption of goods and services drives greenhouse gas emissions, directly and indirectly, through the emissions associated with the extraction and refining of raw materials, manufacturing and production of products and energy used in storage, distribution and disposal. This is of particular relevance to cities, which (unless they have a significant manufacturing economy, for example) are typically centres of consumption and whose consumption-based emissions profiles are often therefore much larger than when emissions are considered on a production basis. Consumption is closely linked to wealth (GDP); however, it is more difficult to quantify links between consumption and wellbeing or happiness effectively. Addressing the climate crisis will need to include action to reduce consumption-based emissions and, in some cases, this may be argued to require overall reductions in the volume of goods and services consumed.

This is a difficult topic for policy-makers to address, in part because of concerns around the impact on GDP. However, the impact on happiness/wellbeing of citizens is not often considered, and could provide evidence of benefit to support certain reductions in consumption of particular products or services. People are increasingly questioning the basis of assessing success based on GDP and other limited indicators. 

  • Would happiness or wellbeing be a better indicator to use or include? 
  • What correlation is there between spending on goods/services and wellbeing or happiness? 
  • Does it vary by sector or product category? 
  • Is there a minimum threshold above which, additional consumption of goods and services on an individual level does not necessarily result in increases in happiness or wellbeing? 
  • What indicators could be used in a city context to infer happiness or wellbeing benefits associated with reduced consumption?  
Unsustainable consumption in cities (2)
Title:Unsustainable consumption in cities
Client:ARUP (Energy Team)
Team:Weiming Pan, Annie Amrhein, Yuh Shyuan Lee, Evita Moawad, Salman Khan, Ryan Leung
Brief:Another completely different angle would be to explore how disparate individual consumption levels are in different cities; previous ARUP research was done at a high level for a global cohort of cities, only taking the average spend in each city ‚ but this could mask important differences in inequality levels and the 'spread' of individual spending in a given area. It is widely acknowledged that as you move up the percentiles, the level of spending/emissions associated with lifestyle (consumption of goods/services) increases significantly. This project would explore the options for targeting consumption-related policies in a progressive way to ensure that those who can most afford to change, and who are most responsible for emissions, bear the cost and impacts on those who have less impact and can least afford to change are minimised?


Previous MPA Group Projects


The challenge of low savings and overconsumption in UAE
TitleThe challenge of low savings and overconsumption in UAE
ClientUAE PM office

There are certain behaviors prevalent in the UAE society, one of which is overconsumption and low savings. The impact of low savings goes beyond the individual level to include the impact on the overall economy on the medium and long run.

We are looking to learn more about this pattern and potential solutions. The work could include:

  • Data and indicators about the issue/problem (globally, regionally, within UAE, based on other demographic or geographic factors) for a period of not less than ten years.
  • Causes (including social, economic openness and globalization ... etc) supported by as well as relevant data and indicators for a period of not less than ten years.
  • The system dynamic of the issue (cause and effect). The stock and flow as well as equation will be an added value.
  • Negative effects, harms and threats of the issue/problem including relevant data and indicators on the for a period of not less than ten years
  • The cost of damage or harms to the society and/or the financial cost to the government and the economy
  • Suggested Policies (programs/initiatives/legislations) to address the issue/problem and prevent or reduce its impact
  • Effects of addressing the issue based on the suggested interventions including the unintended effects and how to mitigate them
  • Cost of addressing the issue/problem and implementing the suggested solutions /government interventions and government savings in financial terms for the first year and next five years.
Successful practices in other countries, federal or local governments to address the issue (problem) (at least three practices including nature of the harm/damage, causes, how the government dealt with it and results achieved from the intervention)
Decentralised diesel v. decentralised renewables
TitleDecentralised diesel v. decentralised renewables
ClientOverseas Development Institute (ODI)

The aggregate global market for diesel generators between 2018 and 2022 is estimated to be $115 billion. In 2015, developing countries bought about 600,000 units, with a total installed capacity of 29 gigawatts. Around half of these generators were smaller than 0.3 megawatts. The market is forecast to continue to grow at a moderate rate, driven by the unreliability of power supplies, limited grid networks, low capital cost of diesel generators, and well-established markets and support services. But the continued and growing use of diesel generators is incompatible with the 1.5°C global warming goal of the Paris Agreement. To achieve climate change objectives, the energy services provided by small diesel generators need to transition to renewable energy sources.

What is the technical and economic feasibility of substituting decentralised renewable systems for small diesel generators (1 MW or smaller)? What are small diesel generators used for by residential, commercial, industrial and public service consumers? What are the capacities and costs for different uses? Which decentralised renewable energy systems can provide equivalent services for these various uses of diesel generators? What are their costs? What non-cost factors need to be considered when substituting decentralised renewable energy systems for diesel generators?

Disruptive Digital Technologies for Development and Innovation
TitleDisruptive Digital Technologies for Development and Innovation
BriefCertain digital technologies are seen as disruptive and can be at the certain of new ethical debates and challenges that we have yet to find answers. However, these can still tackle critical development challenges. The use of big data, geospatial technologies, digital identification, and other advances technologies could be explored or considered to current challenges such as response to disasters, reduce corruption or even promote financial inclusion. We should consider the work of the World Bank, BCG and other consulting companies that have experience working in the scope of such project.
The Present and Future of Data Portability in IoT
TitleThe Present and Future of Data in IoT
ClientOpen Rights Group; Michael Veale

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU and the European Economic Area. It guarantees important rights for data subjects, including the right to request access to and rectification or erasure of personal data. One of the most understudied articles of the GDPR is Article 20, which guarantees data subjects the right to receive their personal data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format, in order to, for example, transmit this data to another data controller. In the emerging IoT environment, the right to data portability offers great opportunities. Data subjects could move to choose to move their data between different IoT vendors, incentivizing a more heterogeneous IoT ecosystem. However, it remains unclear how Article 20 is actually currently applied and not only technically but practically implemented.

The group project, therefore, sets out to: a) study how IoT and other tech vendors currently deal with data portability requests; b) analyse what technical and policy measures are required to make Article 20 a useful and actionable right (e.g., data format standardization); and c) develop a standardised ‘data portability template’ that data subjects can use to request their personal data for transmission.

Key project outputs

Forecast-based Financing: Opportunities for Mobilising Climate Finance
TitleForecast-based Financing: Opportunities for Mobilising Climate Finance
ClientRed Cross; Red Crescent Climate Energy Centre
BriefForecast-based Financing is a methodology to set up resources and financing to be automatically available to humanitarians and development practitioners to use when they receive a forecast of a potential disaster, without needing to wait until after the disaster happens to respond. FbF programmes develop a set of pre-agreed forecast triggers and early actions, to ensure that early action is taken immediately when the triggering forecast arrives. This is one method to adapt to the rising risk of extreme events due to climate change, especially in vulnerable contexts where people are greatly impacted by extreme events. Several climate finance mechanisms have been developed and proposed in recent years, in particular to mobilise the goal of 100 billion per year from the Paris Agreement for mitigation and adaptation. This research project would tackle the question of how climate finance can be mobilised for Forecast-based Financing programmes, outlining the pros and cons of different sources of funding being invested in different types of FbF programming. In particular, the research will investigate whether and how FbF could be used as a mechanism for climate finance to reach the most vulnerable people in conflict-affected and fragile state contexts. One dimension of this research is to provide guidance on dealing with uncertainty in climate-change attribution.
Understanding Innovation and the IoT Ecosystem: The Role of Standards in Meeting SMEs Strategic Priorities
TitleUnderstanding Innovation and the IoT Ecosystem: The Role of Standards in Meeting SMEs Strategic Priorities

SMEs play a fundamental role in the development of IoT products and services. They are a key stakeholder group in the IoT ecosystem, advancing innovation at multiple levels: atop their existing product line by adding connectivity (e.g. smart home appliances), within their business operations by adding data collection, automation and actuation (e.g. health services), and/or by innovating directly in the IoT (e.g. hardware, software, cloud services). Despite this important role, SMEs are generally underrepresented in policy-making and standards-development processes. The British Standards Institution (BSI) – the UK national standards body – has recognised this gap by actively engaging with SMEs operating in the IoT space to ensure that their business priorities are reflected in national and international standards. The BSI IoT/1 Technical Committee has worked closely with SMEs, consumer and manufacturing associations to produce a White Paper entitled Navigating and Informing the IoT Standards Landscape: A Guide for SMEs and Start-Ups(BSI and PETRAS, Jan 2019).

The group project contributes to this ongoing work by: a) validating and further identifying SMEs priorities for IoT standardisation via a large-scale survey and one-to-one interviews; b) mapping operational and organisational challenges that SMEs are facing when navigating, adopting and implementing IoT standards; c) developing a framework that will help SMEs engage more systematically in these IoT standards-making processes.

Key project outputs

Transitions to Sustainable Urban Mobility: Policy Lessons
TitleTransitions to Sustainable Urban Mobility: Policy Lessons
ClientUCL Department of CEGE (Clemence Cavoli); UN Habitat; World Bank.
BriefThe project, called T-SUM (Transitions to Sustainable Urban Mobility), is an existing interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaborative research project that aims to identify the conditions under which sustainable and inclusive transport and land use development can be accelerated in growing cities in the Global South. It is grounded in the observation that where there is still-low-but-rising levels of motorization, economic growth and increasing social and spatial inequalities, the formulation and implementation of policies, practices and partnerships that can support an accelerated implementation of sustainable mobility structures is an urgent concern for rapidly developing cities. This project will initially focus on Maputo, Mozambique, and Freetown, Sierra Leone, as apposite examples of growing urban economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the Global South. T-SUM is a cross-departmental collaboration between UCL Development Planning Unit at the Bartlett and the Centre for Transport Studies, part of the Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. It involves a range of partners in Maputo and Freetown, including academics, consultants and policy-makers and institutions such as the World Bank and UN-Habitat. This project will work with Work Package 3: Vision pathways and implementation strategies. Students supported the research team in developing policy lessons and training for city governments hoping to make Transitions to Urban Mobility.
What next for World cities culture data?
TitleWhat next for World cities culture data?
CientLondon City Hall (Greater London Authority); BOP Consulting

The World Cities Culture Report is the most comprehensive data of global cities and culture; it is published every three years and the 3rd edition published in November 2018 will comprise 33 cities including Buenos Aires, Cape Town, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shenzen, Sydney and Tokyo. The Report is the main pillar of the World Cities Culture Forum, an influential network of senior leaders from 38 global cities that promotes urban leadership in cultural policy (like a 'C40 for culture'). The network is chaired by London's Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries and managed by the Greater London Authority and BOP Consulting. The relationship between data and cities is an area of growing interest often promising to solve a range of urban problems. It includes terms such as Smart City, an alluring prospect for many city leaders and 'thick data', where data is used for greater citizen participation. In culture, there are emerging developments in data driven tools, including the European Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor that aims to promote mutual exchange and learning between cities and boost culture-led development and the world’s first ever Cultural Infrastructure Plan being developed in London.

As cities develop new methods to collect data and open data to their citizens, this project will explore the next steps for the World Culture Cities Report. It will address questions such as: How can the Report best inform urban policy problems with data-driven solutions? How can cities best collect, share and communicate data about city cultural assets and citizens cultural behaviours? What new methodologies are emerging for collection and use of data? Where is the innovation? How can measurements on infrastructure and cultural participation be used for further comparable purposes across such a diverse group of cities? How does the Report track and influence global trends? How and where can the Report best be communicated to the wider public?


    Urban Green Infrastructure 
    Project title: Urban Green Infrastructure: Converting research into policy action
    Client:Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO)


    The Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) is a research agency that exists as a collaboration between the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg and the Gauteng provincial government, South Africa. They produce research and analysis around many regional social, environmental and economic challenges. The GCRO is unusual in the context of urban observatories in its engagement with multiple governance levels, taking place across a heterogeneous city-region rather than a single, constrained urban core.

    The GCRO has an ongoing programme of work on 'Green assets and infrastructure' in the city-region. Over the last few years the GCRO have conducted mapping and documenting exercises, resulting in the "State of Green Infrastructure" report. They have also run a series of stakeholder engagements known as 'CityLabs' to start to understand experiences and leverage expertise present in the development and management of green infrastructure projects. GCRO are now in the process of digesting the outcomes of this work in appropriate ways to benefit to a range of decision-making communities, in a variety of decision-making contexts, across a diverse city-region.


    • Review current modes of communication in terms of how successful / unsuccessful they have been in engaging decision-makers around the topic of green infrastructure.
    • Look at what can research do to support the uptake of a green infrastructure approach into urban planning, and/or project development and implementation 
    • Use a relevant green infrastructure case study to explore how co-production can assist with bridging inter/intragovernmental challenges in these types of cases.
    • Co-produce guidance and action plan in response to points above in collaboration with stakeholder groups

    Key project outputs 

    Climate actions by city governments
    Project title: Scaling up urban experiments
    Client:C40 Cities Group


    With more than half of the world's population living in cities, and 70 million new urban dwellers every year (the equivalent of 7 new "Londons" per year), urban innovation is now critical to the future of sustainable development and the agendas shaping the future of our planet. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, now in its 10th year, connects more than 80 of the world's greatest cities, representing over 600 million people and one quarter of the global economy. 

    Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens. C40 has been partnering with ARUP and UCL STEaPP's City Leadership Laboratory since 2015, producing a series of three landmark reports that paved the way to the participation of cities in the new Paris climate agenda and Paris Agreement.

    Research by C40, ARUP and the Lab has demonstrated that cities that collaborate are far more effective than individualist, top-down, cities -not only in the number of actions they take but also in the capacity to scale up pilot projects to transformative city-wide actions. 


    • The project will explore the drivers, mechanisms, and challenges of scaling up experiments and how C40 can best leverage these dynamics.
    • The team will collaborate with C40's London secretariat and the Lab team at STEaPP, producing a C40 report (as with the previous three), with analysis and a series of informative case studies, written and video blogs, a briefing for C40 staff and transferrable lessons for C40 cities.
    • The project will involve direct access to a pool of selected C40 cities (e.g. C40's steering committee chaired by Paris, and including Mexico City, London, Seoul, Milan, Rio and Jakarta), as well as to C40 staff in the London secretariat, and will require both analysis of C40 data as well as interviews with practitioners (including experts from the broader pool of Lab partners like the OECD, World Bank and Uk Government) and possible workshopping activities with C40 experts and cities. 
    Using energy to enhance wellbeing
    Project title:Productive use of energy for enhancing wellbeing
    Client:International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)


    STEaPP is collaborating on a research project with the IIED is to identify what interventions are needed to help poor people in rural areas access decentralized energy services that strengthen their capacity to earn a living. 

    Decentralized energy encompasses mini-grids and standalone energy devices, such as solar water pumps or efficient ovens. Many people agree that energy services need to go beyond the household, providing power for irrigation, energy for food processing and building local businesses, particularly in rural areas. This project focuses on energy services targeted at people working in small-scale agriculture, fishing, forestry and local services (retail, hospitality, trades). 

    IIED is aware of interest in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Nepal, India and Bangladesh in this area of work.


    The group project will focus on a number of challenges such as: 

    • identifying the specific evidence and practice gaps of different stakeholder groups; 
    • designing the key research questions and prototyping methods
    • working out who will participate and partner with IIED, and the incentives/barriers to this
    • clarifying the results and pathways to take-up.
    Evaluation of SPHEIR
    Project title:Evaluation of SPHEIR
    Client:Technopolis Group (consultancy partner) for DfiD and British Council


    The Strategic Partnership for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) programme, a collaboration between the Department for International Development (DFID) and British Council, provides development assistance to higher education institutions in developing nations, with a focus in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. This assistance can take many forms, with a focus on quality, accessibility, relevance, affordability, scale, sustainability and technology (SPHEIR, n.d.b). Technopolis Group, a consulting firm located in the U.K., has been hired by the British Government to assist in the evaluation of SPHEIR and to assess the impact and scalability of the SPHEIR programme. The authors of this report work under the direction of Technopolis Group.

    This report has been written to assist in the identification of emerging innovative pedagogies in the SPHEIR regions, in addition to Latin America. Pedagogical innovations were identified within the foci listed above through the application of a variety of frameworks. These frameworks, developed by universities and international organisations, were applied to existing literature and further complemented by conversations with experts in the education field. With these combined elements, a plethora of pedagogies which may be considered to be ‘innovative’ were identified in the selected countries; the Appendix contains detailed descriptions of each pedagogy identified.


    The group project will focus on three broad objectives:

    • Definition of Innovative Pedagogies
    • Examples of Innovative Pedagogies
    • Feasibility and Replicability

    Key outputs