USE-IT! Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together

The University of Birmingham, as part of a consortium bid led by Birmingham City Council, has won funding totalling €3.64m from the EU (ERDF) Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme to deliver USE-IT! (Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together). 

The UIA programme provides urban areas throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to solve their urban challenges. USE-IT! is about developing new mechanisms to unlock the potential of poor communities and connect them to the resources they need in order to remain resilient and escape poverty. We want to encourage sustainable urban development and make sure that regeneration benefits are delivered to local communities while at the same time empowering local people to create the conditions to stimulate social and economic innovation.


A cross university, multi-disciplinary team led by CURS/GEES with support from TSRC and City-REDI will deliver work embedding and pioneering community based research, developing modules for use in tackling poverty by connecting residents to urban development opportunities and also carry out the evaluation of the whole programme including modelling macro micro skills and poverty. Bringing these competences to USE-IT! will be crucial to developing capacity for communities to co-produce social and economic innovation and test the role of higher education as an agent of change in poor communities.

Research team

  • Project Lead, Dr Peter Lee, GEES/CURS, University of Birmingham
  • Evaluation Lead, Rebecca Riley, City-REDI, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Sara Hassan, Research Fellow, City-REDI, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Deniz Sevinc, Research Fellow, City-REDI, University of Birmingham
  • Liam O’Farrell, Policy and Data Analyst, City-REDI, University of Birmingham

Project Collaborators

  • Birmingham City Council, University of Birmingham, Karis Neighbour Scheme, Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs, Birmingham Voluntary Services Council, Localise West Midlands, Smethwick Church Action Network, Co-operative Futures, Birmingham City University – University, Canal and River Trust – NGO, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Father Hudson’s Care, Health Exchange CIC, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Citizen Coaching CIC. 

Publications and downloads

Publications and downloads relating to the project can be found on the project website


USE-IT Community Research Workshop September 2017
Case Study | Deborah | Community Researcher
USE-IT! A regeneration model that works
Return to the City-REDI Homepage Return to the People Theme Return to the Places Theme

Funder/client: EU (ERDF) Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme
Timescale: 2016 - 2020