New Urban Champions

Learning Expedition in Columbus, Ohio

NewCities organized a Learning Expedition in Columbus, Ohio on October 23rd and 24th, 2018. This Learning Expedition, hosted in partnership with ENGIE, was the first installment of “New Urban Champions,” an initiative that invites medium-sized cities to share exemplary approaches to economic, social and environmental development on a global learning platform.

With the majority of the global population now living and working in cities, cities around the world have become an intractable component of conversations on topics such as health and well-being, sustainability, the development and deployment of technology, and the future of governance and democracy. Within this global rise of cities, media coverage of leading city-level action has a tendency to gravitate towards megacities; however, a great amount of the growth, innovation and development which is driving the century of the city is occuring in small and medium-sized cities. These small and medium-sized cities, or “secondary cities” within a country’s population hierarchy, have a great deal to share with the world about the future of energy, mobility, smart technology, and sustainability in cities.

This is why we believe that in any conversation about the future of life in cities, it’s important to pay attention to “New Urban Champions.” Inspired by this perspective, our agenda in Columbus showcased successful public-private partnerships, featured innovative smart city advancements, and detailed how a university campus connects to and enhances its surrounding urban ecosystem.

Why Columbus? Since winning the first-ever U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Smart City Challenge” in 2016, Columbus has emerged as a model Smart City. City officials attribute their successes to strong collaboration across sectors—the newly opened Smart Columbus Experience Center and the Comprehensive Energy Management Project between ENGIE and The Ohio State University stand as testaments to Columbus’ commitment to energy research and technology commercialization. Over the Learning Expedition program, NewCities engaged participants in a series thematic working groups and site visits around the city, while also providing opportunities for conversation, networking, and partnership building.

Download the Program

For more information, please contact Michael Woodbridge, Manager of Research Programs, NewCities at

Lead partner


Supporting partners


Featured Image by David Mark from Pixabay.