Urban areas across the country and around the globe are facing complex ‘grand challenges’ ranging from racial injustices reinforced by historical legacies within the built environment, to strained mobility systems pressured by rapid technological changes, to the need for accelerated environmental sustainability through green transformation. To solve these challenges, urbanists must learn to inclusively promote shifts throughout the urban fabric, from the street to city-system levels.

Mission-oriented innovation is a new approach to innovation policy that some cities have begun using to support their ambition to solve grand challenges. This talk will begin by providing an overview of missions and how they can support place-based innovation. Then, the talk will examine how this approach is being utilised in Greater Manchester, which in 2019 adopted a mission to deliver carbon neutral living within the city-region’s economy by 2038. Over the past 18-months, Greater Manchester’s mission has mobilised activity from a variety of organisations and interests across the city-region and is the primary policy that is being used to deliver the area’s climate emergency commitments and its green recovery from Covid-19.


Ryan Bellinson is Senior Research Fellow in Cities, Climate and Innovation at UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. His research and policy analysis work at IIPP focuses on exploring the role of mission-oriented innovation and public value for accelerating climate action in cities. He has a strong background providing expertise on climate policy, stakeholder engagement and urban planning to organisations internationally including ICLEI, US Senator Jeff Merkley, 100 Resilient Cities and the State of Oregon Natural Resource Policy Office. He also holds a PhD in Urban Studies and Planning.

Photo by William McCue on Unsplash

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