Urban Futures

Urban Futures is the name of the University of Cincinnati’s strategic investments in research infrastructure, talent, and activities in four verticals: 1. Computational research (Digital Futures); 2. The arts, humanities, and social/behavioral sciences (Society & Culture); 3. Biomedical & sustainability R&D (Bioscience & the Bioeconomy); and 4. The development of P3 projects and partnerships. Urban Futures is a key component of Research2030, UC’s strategic plan for research and Next Lives Here, UC’s Strategic Direction.

Rapid acceleration of the migration phenomenon known as ‘urbanization’ + meteoric advances in technology = A better future for all. Right? …Not necessarily. ‘Urban Futures’, administered by the UC Office of Research, is the name of a portfolio of investments in research that addresses the multitude of societal challenges posed by urbanization.


TRANSFORM the Future: Digital Futures: Digital Futures is the name of UC’s brand new, 180k square foot research facility designed to foster collaboration, moonshot thinking, and high–risk/high–reward, applied research. The faculty, staff, and students affiliated with Digital Futures are actively partnering with industry, government, and the community to solve problems that matter and improve people’s lives. Digital Futures houses some of UC’s top talent working at the intersection of exploration, creativity, and impact. Learn more: ucdigitalfutures.com

ELEVATE The Future: Society & Culture: Centered on growing programs of excellence in the non-STEM disciplines at UC, our ‘Society & Culture’ vertical is elevating research that expands our knowledge about that which makes us human and the arts, as an expression of this very idea. Our actions and investments in these areas will catalyze and grow key social, behavioral and cognitive research programs that advance knowledge about the brain, human cognition, language, social behavior, and culture. Our objective is to take the arts, humanities, and social sciences at UC to the next level which in turn increases our competitiveness and our ability to retain and attract the top creative and scholarly talent to UC.

IMAGINE The Future: Bioscience & the Bioeconomy: Centered on growing programs of excellence in the STEMM disciplines at UC, our ‘Bioscience & Bioeconomy’ vertical capitalizes on the breadth of our research expertise. At the center of our Bioscience effort are researchers pushing the boundaries of discovery in digital medicine, biomaterials and medical devices. Our Bioeconomy efforts bring cross-disciplinary teams together to address critical questions around natural resource sustainability at the nexus of food, energy, and water. UC is partnering with leaders in industry working toward a green, clean future, to grow Green and Clean Technologies that have the potential to positively impact people’s lives and our local economy. Moreover, the UC Office of Research has partnered with the Center for Public Engagement with Science (PEWS) to increase the public's awareness of impactful sustainability science happening at UC. We would be remiss not to mention that the UC Office of Research teamed up with the UC Office of Sustainability to help them secure for UC, a Gold STARS rating in 2023 as recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

UNIFY The Future: According to the Harvard Business Review, some thought leaders on creativity and innovation have written about the value of “creative abrasion”, the process by which “intellectually diverse people generate, vigorously debate, and ultimately implement ideas”. Just as Urban Futures researchers recognize creative abrasion as an ingredient of innovation, we know that critical partnerships are instrumental to truly achieving innovation, inclusion and impact at scale. Our Non-Profit Initiative focuses on increasing impact of non-profit organizations in the region through UC subject matter experts serving on NPO boards. We have partnered with the Leadership Council, our region’s convening body for all NPOs, so to train our faculty and staff through a nine-week program that drills down into nonprofit governance, finance, fundraising, cultural competency and other topics any new board member should grasp to serve their community on a nonprofit’s board of directors. Our partnership goes beyond training faculty and staff: The UC Office of Research is co-located with several backbone organizations in the Digital Futures building: The Leadership Council, Green Umbrella & Tri-State Trails, the Mayerson Academy (now VIA), and hip-hop culture organization, Elementz. These organizations have tremendous reach into our community and have measurable impact. Our co-location in Digital Futures has already compelled meaningful research, teaching, and other partnerships and has stimulated a tremendous amount of public engagement within our building that we could not have achieved on our own.

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Headshot of Patrick Limbach

Patrick Limbach

Vice President for Research, Office of Research