City Labs

Enhancing societal impact challenge-based learning in post-industrial cities

We contribute to the urban resilience and renaissance of post-industrial cities.

We provide our societies and next generations with the 21st century skills and competencies required for the societal impact in the superdiverse European future through UNIC CityLabs at the UNIC University.

UNIC CityLabs are physical and virtual meeting points where students, citizens, academia and city stakeholders work together to identify and solve societal challenges faced by post-industrial superdiverse cities.

In these urban meeting places, UNIC students, researchers, teachers meet UNIC’s associate partners, local communities and citizens to co-create innovative solutions to real-life urban challenges. The underlying challenged based and impact-by-design research methodologies ensures that social impact and research will go hand in hand. It confronts students with new societal challenges in their local context and teaches them to approach these challenges using new hybrid forms of knowledge to generate innovative solutions from an international approach. The combination of citizen-centred and participatory design principles creates a sense of belonging to the UNIC community facing the common challenges.

In three years’ time, a UNIC CityLab will be established in each UNIC city.

Pop-Up City


The societal challenges are brought up at 48 UNIC Pop-Up City Labs - physical or virtual pop-up meeting points in urban locations where students, academia, societal stakeholders and citizens work together to identify important issues for superdiverse UNIC post-Industrial cities. UNIC aims to publicly introduce societal challenges to local agents and prepare the field to further research and co-creation of innovative solutions.

Virtual Meeting


Challenge and research-based learning methods engender a reciprocal and transformative learning process for the students working on UNIC CityLabs. This is done within Virtual CityLab peer-working spaces that will allow UNIC students to participate in inter-university activities, like hackathons and collaborative online international learning (COIL) on Comparative Harvard Case Study Models. 48 UNIC CityLabs Virtual Meeting Platforms bring problems to the university classrooms and encourage students, teachers and researchers to co-work in the search of innovative solutions and alternatives to bring superdiverse development to post-industrial spaces.


CityLab Festivals

An annual International CityLab Festival in Liège (2021), Oulu (2022) and Bilbao (2023) showcases the impact and research insights of the projects developed in the UNIC CityLabs (both Pop-Ups and Virtual Meeting Platforms), with multiplayer effect in new associate partners. These events aim to be the joint outcome of the solution process in order to help post-industrial cities and societies to solve the superdiversity challenges with the pursued societal impact that UNIC aims. Festivals’ goal is to bring students, citizens, academia, researchers and city stakeholders together to celebrate the outcomes of Pop-Up CityLabs and Virtual Meeting Platforms. Furthermore, they pursue to visibilize UNIC University together with its achievements and new challenges.

UNIC Open Case


Finally, the UNIC Open Case Repository collects the case-based knowledge and expertise from the CityLabs and thereby builds the foundation for an innovative solutions infrastructure with a rich empirical data basis for publications with a multi-level impact.

UNIC CityLabs is a European model of practice for creating societal impact in post-industrial cities. UNIC serves the cities!