TNE impact case study: TNE enabling collaborative approach: Lancaster University and its global-local research partners

Lancaster University
Collaboration type:
Research Collaboration
SDG Goals:
(2) Zero Hunger, (3) Good Health and Well-being, (4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (6) Clean Water and Sanitation, (7) Affordable and Clean Energy, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (12) Responsible Consumption and Production, (13) Climate Action , (17) Partnerships for the Goals
Malaysia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya
Professor Simon Guy - Pro-Vice-Chancellor Global, Ben Matthews - Head of Global Engagement - Lancaster University

Background and overview of the case study

Engagement between Lancaster University and its global TNE partners is happening at multiple levels. In addition to a wide range of teaching initiatives, Lancaster prides itself on successful collaborations with researchers around the world, including with local partners in regions where it has an international campus presence.

As a research-intensive public university in the UK, Lancaster’s research output is considered ‘very high’ by the QS, and it is consistently ranked top 100 worldwide in terms of ‘Citations per Faculty’ by the QS World University Rankings. Between 2018 and 2021, over 60% of publications were co-authored with institutions outside the UK, according to SciVal, a global research intelligence provider.

Lancaster seeks to address global challenges by leveraging connections built through TNE partnerships. Since 2006, Lancaster and one of its strategic partners Sunway University, a leading Malaysian private university, have been continually building on existing research strengths and exploring collaborative research opportunities. The launch of the Future Cities Research Institute (FCRI) in 2019, a joint research centre based in Malaysia, marked further commitment from both institutions to advance a shared research agenda. The FCRI aims to become the go-to urban research hub that shapes the global agenda and trains the next generation of truly international and interdisciplinary researchers across the Global South and Global North.

Meanwhile, supported by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, RECIRCULATE is a research and capacity-building project between Lancaster University and partners at several research institutes and universities in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana.  Enabled by over a decade of local engagement efforts and accelerated by the Centre for Global Eco-innovation Nigeria, based at the University of Benin - the first international hub of Lancaster’s renowned Centre for Global Eco-Innovation - the project connects researchers with businesses, policy-makers, civil society and community stakeholders. It learns from local expertise to develop tailored solutions, which have been co-created and co-developed to deliver real impact to communities.

Impact and value

Both the FCRI and the RECIRCULATE project are examples of research-centred collaborations connected and enabled through global TNE partners. Embodying the value of SDG 17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, our researchers develop joint research agendas that are informed by local needs and benefit from local input.

Our local connections ensure that research findings are shared with and validated by those who are most likely to benefit from innovation. Through careful management, these inclusive partnerships avoid dominant agendas from the Global North and co-develop knowledge that benefits the wider society.


Research taking place at the FCRI is centred around three themes, namely Digital Cities, Sustainable Cities, Resilient Cities and Liveable Cities, sharing its goal with the SDG 11 ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ and tackling other major global SDG challenges associated with rapid urbanisation worldwide. Interdisciplinary in nature, the Centre’s research topics complement the work of the Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development (based at Sunway University).

As part of its plan, FCRI researchers will utilise Sunway City, in Kuala Lumpur, as a living lab to explore how cities in the future can be made more liveable and sustainable. The FCRI is looking to expand its research portfolio by including design for healthy living, people-based infrastructure, night-time urban environments and urban food security, which reflect the SDG  12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’.


Seeking to improve safe circular water economy and to pilot eco-innovative solutions in Africa, the RECIRCULATE project is underpinned by a partnership-based approach aimed at enabling and empowering local partners focussing on water for health, water for energy and water for food. In addition to co-designing research with local communities and businesses, the capacity building element is also reflected through a substantial training element built into the RECIRCULATE project, which includes training events in Africa, knowledge exchange events, month-long ‘residences’ at Lancaster University and more widely through digital training with stakeholders across the African continent.

Similar Case Studies

TNE impact case study: ISU / NTU Education Hub

The concept for an ISU / NTU Education Hub emerged as an ambitious project building on a number of years of successful..
Read more

TNE impact case study: Keele/BFSU double degree partnership

BFSU and Keele run a double-degree programme for students who wish to specialise in the study of international relations
Read more

TNE impact case study: The first public Vietnamese university established in binational cooperation

Jointly supported by the governments of Vietnam, the German Federal state of Hesse and Germany, the Vietnamese-German...
Read more