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Mini-lab (UK)

Around half a million houses in Greater Manchester are in poor condition. Bringing all UK households out of fuel poverty would cost an average of £2,000 each. The total cost would be £6.4 billion, and the benefit would be three times that, at £19.7 billion (i.e. NPV at 6%).  This looks like a no-brainer – but our policy is not well joined up. We continue to spill energy into the winter skies, while the most vulnerable shiver in their homes, putting even more pressure on an over-stretched NHS…

Could there be a better way to do this? This is about joined-up policy, and the learning / thinking capacity of policy. It’s about the collective intelligence of the whole city system.

The Devolution programme in Greater Manchester (GM), and similar city-regions around the UK, is a huge opportunity and challenge. It’s a call for public services to ‘do more with less’, with ‘joined up thinking’. It needs more collaboration between public, business, civic and academic sectors, a new ‘multi-versity’. It calls for improved ‘collective urban intelligence’, learning and innovation shared with all parts of society.

This project, the Metropolitan Intelligence Lab (‘Mini-Lab’) is testing a small scale pilot for this collective urban intelligence. It aims to test new ways of knowledge exchange and transfer: between the scientific knowledge in the universities, and policy knowledge in the city-region.

The project is an pilot partnership between the University of Manchester and the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub of the GMCA. It follows on 4 larger projects: Future of Cities: Eco-Cities / RESIN: Triangulum and the Corridor project. Learning from the Mini-Lab experience, we aim to develop a larger Mind-Lab.

Work is in progress on two main fronts:

  • Housing energy retrofit and the integrated ‘socio-eco-business’ models
  • Environmental governance for the Natural Capital Group & Natural Course project (see separate site).

How does the web-tool work?

The Mini-lab web-tool here is a prototype for demonstration and testing. It aims to help manage and create knowledge on complex challenges. It provides simple online templates to explore the socio-eco-business models and pathways. These are developed through the 4 main stages of synergistic thinking: –

  • ‘Baselines’ – the current situation, with gaps, barriers, shortfalls
  • Scenarios’ – possible alternative futures (using the scenarios from GM2040).
  • ‘Synergies’ – potential opportunities, innovations, ideas and synergies.
  • ‘Strategies’ – roadmaps and future-proofed pathways, turning ideas into action with the socio-eco-business models.

Overall, this Web-tool is not a button to press for the ‘answer’ to complex problems: it’s a resource and support system for the human process of learning, thinking, creating and action.

To use the Web-tool go to the Overview>> – (NO LINK)

For guidance on the Synergistic tools and techniques, click on the icon>>> – (NO LINK)