Universities are about education and research but they can and should also play a more direct role in creating a better society. Universities are microcosms of openness and free discourse. Their open, unbiased and independent character can be a major asset in facilitating and catalysing urban actors. Universities’ power of knowledge can empower urban communities and create a more level playing field with the other powerful forces in the city – especially the public and private sector – which will help unleash and implement their innovative potentials. Besides applying their resources and knowledge, universities can function as neutral brokers in conflict situations and act as facilitators that ensure that everybody is heard, generating the setting for a constructive and creative urban process.
Universities are always both part of a global network of knowledge sharing and linked to a location – community/city. By embedding and engaging the university locally it is possible to combine the very local and place-based approach of UEL with building or tapping into existing networks in order to scale up and strengthen local urban innovation.