The Urban Innovation Toolkit consists of a proven workshop methodology that helps guide urban innovation managers and organisations in defining and de-risking urban technology projects.

Using the Toolkit provides a framework for a conversation around project development by concentrating on these five components (problems, stakeholders, methods, evidence, impact – because these are the core parts of a project that often miss deep consideration in project development processes since they seem obvious) and exploring how they are all interconnected. Urban technology innovation all too often starts from the perspective of the technology rather than the problems, forgets to include some stakeholders in the conversation, uses methods without understanding (or even having) evidence, and fails to plan for specific impact, let alone evaluation of that impact. The Toolkit enables project organisers to be more rigorous about exploring each of these.

Development of the Toolkit was iterative and continuous, commissioned by Future Cities Catapult, we worked with 6 different early-stage and mid-stream urban technology project teams in cities across the UK (including Bradford, Cambridge and Kingston-upon-Thames) to design and ‘stress-test’ it against real-world projects.

Overview of Urban Innovation Toolkit


  • Workshop for a group of 5-12 key stakeholders and local experts
  • Lead by Umbrellium team (physically or remotely)
  • Facilitated by Umbrellium’s Urban Innovation Toolkit
  • An Urban Innovation Toolkit web platform used to facilitate each workshop session:
    • Use it to frame discussion around five core project concepts and create a common understanding between participants: problems, stakeholders, methods, evidence, impact
    • Use it to explore how these elements join up, or identify gaps (e.g. methods that don’t have evidence, or stakeholders that are not involved in project development, or impact that cannot be evaluated)
    • Use it to discover use cases that are related to the project you are working on (matched by topic tags)
  • Afterwards: summary report, project diagrams, project risk, uncertainty and complexity assessment and ongoing evaluation forms

Expected Outcomes

By using the Urban Innovation Toolkit you can:

  • Design, test and evaluate ‘smart city’ initiatives
  • Derisk experimentation with technology
  • Understand barriers to innovation before wide deployment
  • Help innovative solutions to succeed
  • Articulate a business case for change
  • Demonstrate a commitment to impact

Use Cases

  • Local authorities engaged in project planning at any stage of urban technology deployments
  • Building a shared vision for stakeholders in complex projects
  • Urban technology companies developing programmes on behalf of local authorities