Research Newsletter - Issue 81: Spotlight

To effectively tackle the biggest and most complex challenges, the ‘wicked’ problems we are collectively facing as a society today, we must be enabled to work together, share ideas and to develop and test solutions in close partnership with citizens, industry, and government stakeholders.


SDG 11 Image

Sustainable cities and communities

As a member of ECIU University, a vibrant network of innovative universities across Europe, DCU is working closely with partner institutions to build the SMART-ER Virtual Research Institute.  

SMART-ER focusses on Smart Regions, currently in topics relating to UN SDG 11 ‘Sustainable cities and communities’, identifying regional challenges and opportunities and connecting them at European scale.


To achieve this, SMART-ER is putting clear structures and supports in place to facilitate researchers and non-academic stakeholders across the ECIU network to connect and form dynamic international communities across five thematic areas:

  • Energy & sustainability
  • Transport & mobility
  • Circular economy
  • Resilient communities
  • Citizen science


How to get involved

Each community is led by its own ‘Research Field Coordinator’, an active researcher based in one of the ECIU member institutions with strong expertise in the field. Research Field Coordinators take a bottom-up approach to community-building, organising regular online seminars and events and promoting opportunities for funding and collaboration. Connections are further strengthened by physical networking at local meetings hosted in ECIU member institutions and in larger scale at the planned SMART-ER research conference taking place in Barcelona later this year (further details to follow).

SMART-ER research communities are open to all disciplines and career stages, and offer opportunities to develop or expand your European network, share ideas and best practices, find partners and develop joint proposals for funding in challenge-based and impact-driven research.

If you are interested in learning more and joining one or more of the SMART-ER Research Communities, you can contact our Research Field Coordinators directly for more information. All contact details are available on the ECIU website.


More about SMART-ER and research in ECIU University

The SMART-ER Virtual Research Institute (VRI) is part of ECIU University, a European University alliance of 13 trusted partners developing novel, challenge-based approaches to education, research and innovation.


Challenge Based Research

Challenge Based Research


ECIU University represents a deepening commitment of the ECIU network, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, to create a European-wide ecosystem and open innovation community who are enabled and driven to tackle societal challenges and make real impact.  ECIU University has previously published a position paper on ‘Challenge-Based Research for a Stronger and More Sustainable Europe’ available here.


With support from the Horizon 2020 ‘Science with and for Society’ award, SMART-ER is currently piloting a number of joint initiatives including seed funding, researcher training courses and transnational citizen science projects. SMART-ER aims to integrate public engagement in all activities supported by the VRI and is currently running an ongoing webinar series open to researchers and staff across all ECIU member institutions.


For further questions or queries you can reach out to the local team at DCU: