Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

< Back to '15th January 2020' briefing

January 14, 2020

Spin or breakthrough?

A while back, we reported on a piece of research from four European cities – Glasgow, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Birmingham – exploring a complex and highly skilled role which had been identified as making a potentially critical difference to development work in some of the most challenging neighbourhoods in these cities. The researchers christened the role Smart Urban Intermediary. Whether this phrase represents anything more than a new spin on an old idea or is indeed a breakthrough in our understanding of communities is open to debate. To help you decide, the Scottish context of the research has just been published.


This Scottish Supplement builds from the learning across four European case-sites – Amsterdam, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Glasgow – as is considered and explored in:

The Project Report deepens understanding of the complex, socially-skilled roles of Smart Urban Intermediaries or SUIs working in urban neighbourhoods across partnerships, sectors, networks and communities of interest – so socially-smart – in order to bring together place-making, community-building and ‘people-making’ (person-centred working). SUIs align this practical know-how with their values and commitments in order to navigate opportunities and tensions on-the-ground and develop actions and strategies for local change and development.

The Policy Briefing – discussed below – highlights broad messages common to all the case-sites on how policy-makers and funders can build the capacity of SUIs to work for flexible, accountable and participative local governance (democratic innovation); collective cross-sector knowledge-sharing and innovation to meet social needs (social innovation); and, the local potential of infotech or digital infrastructure and information technology (technological innovation).

Below we illustrate the often unrecognised, crucial role that SUIs play in affecting change with local people in communities and places in innovative, committed ways. This is considered in the Scottish policy context and alongside aspirations for a more equitable society and the eradication of poverty.

To read this briefing in full click here