A city-university collaborative for urban innovation


MetroLab Network includes 34 cities, 3 counties, and 44 universities, organized in more than 30 regional city-university partnerships. Partners focus on research, development, and deployment (RD&D) projects that offer technological and analytically-based solutions to challenges facing urban areas including: inequality in income, health, mobility, security and opportunity; aging infrastructure; and environmental sustainability and resiliency.


City-university partnerships are mutually-beneficial relationships in which the university is the city’s R&D department and the city is a test-bed. Faculty and students get access to real-life laboratories to test advanced approaches aimed at addressing city priorities and challenges. Cities, and their residents, benefit from technologies and policies that leverage digital and information technology, data analytics, sensing, and more.


Individually, city-university RD&D partnerships are beneficial and help drive innovative approaches in government. When networked together, they present an opportunity to scale effective solutions, accelerate best practices, and advance the understanding of urban science.


This primer includes 10 Principles for Successful City-University Partnerships for Urban Innovation.

What’s New

What We Do

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City-University Partnership

Encourage formal, institutionalized, multi-disciplinary, multi-agency partnerships focused on RD&D. City-University partnerships can serve as innovation engines in city government that transcends political cycles and industry contracts.


Cross Partner Learning

Facilitate the scaling of successful RD&D approaches. Leverage the network to develop tools and resources that support collaborative efforts between cities and universities.  Accelerate best practices, data standards, and methods.


National Collaborative

Organize labs that bring together similar but previously uncoordinated efforts in different communities. Creating a platform for multi-city multi-university teams to address complex, long-term challenges.

Featured Projects

Boston, MA

Economic Development & Human Capital, Education, Governance & Civic Engagement, Health & Public Safety, Human Capital, Mobility, Open Data, Public Safety, Sensors, Transportation & Infrastructure

Chicago, IL

Carbon Reduction, Governance & Civic Engagement, Mobility, Open Data, Sensors, Transportation & Infrastructure, Water, Energy & Sustainability
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