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New Urban Innovation Centre Will Incubate Ideas for Smarter Cities

Vince Cable Claire Mookerjee and Peter Madden at the Urban Innovation Centre

The UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, Claire Mookerjee, Project Lead Urbanism @futurecitiescat, and Peter Madden, CEO of Future Cities Catapult, at the Urban Innovation Centre opening yesterday.

A new Urban Innovation Centre has opened in London as a facility for urban innovators, particularly in the area of 'smart' cities, to incubate and pioneer their work.

Its state-of-the-art facilities will be used by businesses, academics and city leaders to collaborate and turn ingenious ideas into real systems that will be used around the world to improve the quality of life for citizens whilst reducing environmental impact.

It is also the HQ of seven national Future Cities Catapult centres, which help cities take a more joined-up approach to the way they plan and operate. They are managed by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board), a body which funds, supports and connects innovating research and development.

Already in residence within the Centre is Ordnance Survey's Geospatial Innovation Hub, whose mission is to energise innovation in the UK geospatial industry by attracting new players, visions, thinking and markets. Ordnance Survey is Britain's mapping agency, making the most up-to-date and accurate digital maps of the country, which are being used by many companies to provide new services and apps that have tremendous social and civic applications.

Ordnance Survey's Geospatial Innovation Hub

Other tenants of the building are:

  • Sensing Cities, which looks at how to monitor and manage factors like air pollution and their impact on green spaces;
  • Sensing London, one application of this; 
  • Cities Lab, a decision-making theatre and exhibition space;
  • Cities Unlocked, a collaboration with Microsoft and Guide Dogs for the blind which is changing how blind and partially sighted people navigate cities using audio headsets.

A number of other innovators and collaborators will also be residents and the venue will host events that will attract an internationally renowned program of speakers.

The Centre is there to help UK businesses, especially small ones, take advantage of the growing market in future cities, from architecture and engineering, to infrastructure, design and digital technologies.

Opening the enterprise, Professor Sir David King, Chair of the Future Cities Catapult and the Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change, said: "There's a huge opportunity for UK businesses in helping cities to become more resilient, sustainable and focused on delivering wellbeing for their citizens. The Future Cities Catapult will help UK businesses – large and small – to innovate for this market and, at the same time, make our cities better places to live."

 Business secretary Vince Cable, right, at the launch of the Urban Innovation Centre with Ordnance Survey’s Peter Ter Haar, left

Mapping the Future: Ordnance Survey's Peter Ter Haar, Future Cities Catapult's Peter Madden and Business secretary Vince Cable.

Angus Foreman, CTO of Microsoft UK, a partner on Cities Unlocked, said: "Future Cities' willingness to embrace a multi-disciplinary approach to complex experiential challenges that modern urban environments impose recognises that different organisations need to come together to share their experience, expertise, and insight in order for these problems and challenges to be addressed."

Another partner on on Cities Unlocked is Mubaloo. Its Development Director, Mike Crooke, says that his company's involvement with Future Cities Catapult has "helped us to be included in the Creative England 50 most creative companies, and win the NEF: The Innovation Institute award for Most Innovative Company 2014".

The Centre can be found at One Sekforde St, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0BE. For more information on any of the above, including how to book the space, please visit or follow on Twitter @UIC_UK.