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Funded PhD Opportunity

Modelling Critical Success Factors to underpin a Smart City Economy

Subject: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning


The prevalence of infrastructure investment as a catalyst for socio-economic development has been well documented. It can be influential both in the short-term through job creation, as well in the medium to long-term through wider benefits and externalities. Infrastructure investment is thus an essential pillar to a vibrant and functioning society. However, globally physical infrastructure of developed economies has been subjected to significant and systemic underinvestment.

To bridge this gap in demand, there is greater appetite for augmented private-sector involvement in public-services and infrastructure provision at city level. It is argued that developing and investing in infrastructure at a city level will broaden prosperity of communities throughout the region, ergo the national economy. As such city legislators are responsible for determining the infrastructure needs of their city.

Determining the strategic infrastructure needs requires city legislators to consider and assess the future needs of society and to maximise from these investments by delivering benefits, opportunities and to contribute to the growth of the economy. Delivering benefits, opportunities and growth requires consideration of diverse range of individual, business and local community needs. In considering the infrastructure needs of cities, the UK Smart Cities agenda can be utilised to inform infrastructure decision-making through the collection and analysis of data. Under the Smart Cities agenda, the data is then shared by key stakeholders. It is imperative that city legislators work in partnership with the key stakeholders to ensure that cities have the right skills to deliver and sustain a smart city economy.

Ensuring the right skills base requires city legislators to collaborate with universities, colleges and training organisations so as to be involved in developing the skills needs to sustain a smart city economy. Investing in infrastructure that delivers on a smart city economy creates a vibrant, diverse and sustainable economy that will create growth and prosperity.

This PhD proposal aims to: Model the critical success factors of a smart city economy, premised on the partnership between city legislators and regional universities.

The objectives of the proposal seek to:

1. Ascertain the drivers and barriers of a smart city skills based economy

2. Understanding the needs of vibrant, diverse and sustainable regional economy

3.Develop conceptual model for a successful city legislator and university partnership that delivers on regional growth and prosperity.

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
13 March to 21 March 2019


Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses

Contact supervisor

Dr Sharon McClements

Other supervisors


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