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University of Chicago Urban Labs

University of Chicago’s Urban Labs had an ambitious plan to undertake scientific inquiry to identify, design, and test the most promising urban policies—not only in Chicago but also across the nation and globe. But it needed a strategic plan and critical operational support to launch its sustainable urban research program. So Urban Labs enlisted help from BCG.

University of Chicago Urban Labs

BCG Solution

Urban Labs turned to BCG to help establish interrelated research labs that are focused on five key areas of urban life: crime, education, energy and environment, health, and poverty.

The BCG team collaborated with Urban Labs to design a sustainable operating model and a people strategy that would ensure the labs worked together effectively.

BCG formulated a detailed operating budget for launch and a steady-state five-year budget plan. The team also created near- and long-term development objectives linked to budget targets, identified partnerships, hosted workshops, and supported early branding efforts.


Urban Labs successfully launched its new labs in 2015, and already it has received significant media coverage for its innovative approach to urban research.

All of the executive directors of Urban Labs were hired before launch, and detailed role charters for all team members had been clearly established.

BCG supported Urban Labs’ early fundraising efforts, helping to create a detailed list of leads and marketing materials that resulted in $15.6 million in funding.

About University of Chicago Urban Labs

The University of Chicago Urban Labs works closely with partners to address some of the most pressing challenges across five key dimensions of urban life: crime, education, energy and environment, health, and poverty. BCG supported the 2015 launch of Urban Labs.

Center for Illinois' Future
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