Smart, resilient and informal: Learning from urban micro-entrepreneurs and digital innovators

Project Summary

Ever since mobile phones were adopted by informal and subsistence communities, micro-entrepreneurs have built on sophisticated communications infrastructures to transact and innovate in business, leisure and everyday life. They led the way in many cases with new ways of communicating and interacting. This funded studentship provides an opportunity for you to research the role of informal innovation using digital communication platforms in future cities both in the UK and in the global south.

Project Team and where the student will be based

The successful PhD applicant will conduct their research at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Professor Richard Coyne in the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, working in close collaboration with Professor Simon Joss in the School of Social and Political Sciences and the Urban Big Data Centre at the University of Glasgow. Other team members include Professor Harry Smith in the Urban Institute at Heriot-Watt University. Between them, the team has produced over 12 books relevant to the themes of urban innovation, digital media design and working with marginal communities and the global south.


Academic qualifications
Good applicants for this studentship will already have a postgraduate Master’s degree or relevant industry/practice experience in areas related to any of the following: urban planning or design, studies in technology and innovation, digital media design, urban development, sustainable development, the global south, or smart cities.

Experience in working with marginal groups or communities in the global south is desirable, though not a prerequisite for this research.

We expect applicants to be able to engage in issues of community empowerment, participatory processes and user involvement in the production of cities and of place-making.


Enquiries about this project should be directed to Professor Richard