European Institute for Comparative Urban Research

(c) KU Leuven - Rob Stevens 

About us

The European Institute for Comparative Urban Research (Euricur) was founded in 1989 by the Mayors of Barcelona and Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam to stimulate fundamental international comparative research into matters that are of interest to cities. Over the years, Euricur has evolved into a multi-local research network, involving urban practitioners and researchers associated with different Universities to study subjects of strategic value to urban regions today and in the future. Euricur has currently its main seat at KU Leuven, with Prof. Jan van der Borg as scientific director.

Would you like to know more, or discuss collaboration opportunities, please contact the members of the Executive Board.

Cities we conducted research for/at

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The origins of Euricur can be traced back to the mid-1980s. This was a period in which many Western European cities faced economic decline and heightening social problems. Important questions were whether and how could cities become engines behind the economic recovery of their countries. It was also a period of heightening globalisation and European integration, in which city networks and international cooperation were gaining relevance. Like with Eurocities, the genesis of Euricur can be traced back to a study and a conference held in Rotterdam in 1986 entitled “The city: engine behind economic recovery”, in which representatives of cities and other practitioners met to discuss the future of European cities and metropolitan areas.

Since then, under the leadership of Prof. dr. Leo van den Berg (chair Urban and Regional Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam), Euricur became an established university-based think tank on urban development and policy issues, building on a close relation with Eurocities and many of its most active constituent cities. Over the years, Euricur carried out many major comparative urban research projects on topics of relevance to European cities and beyond, and contributed to the debate on urban development affairs with influential scholarly publications, policy reports and educational programmes. Many PhD theses have been completed drawing on Euricur research and relevant partnerships have been established with universities, cities and other development organizations worldwide.

Today´s general socio-political context is rather different from the late 1980s, and considerable uncertainties loon large over Europe. Yet, the role of cities is hardly questionable if some of the major contemporary development challenges are to be tackled, including climate change, migration, social exclusion, digitalization and economic stagnation. These challenges call for socially relevant studies that look into urban development from a comparative perspective, in Europe and beyond.

Mission and profile

The core mission of Euricur is to stimulate and develop international, comparative research and education into globally relevant urban issues. To this effect, Euricur coordinates, initiates and carries out fundamental and applied research on subjects of strategic value to urban regions today and in the future. The results of our studies are disseminated through publications, training programmes, master classes, conferences and participation in national and international meetings and congresses.

The close connection between academic research and urban practice has been a distinctive feature of Euricur over the years. This interface has been crucial to keep Euricur research activities up-to-date and of societal relevance. The role of Euricur´s Advisory Committee is key to ensure that this connection is maintained and renewed over time.

Euricur´s core researchers are urban economists by training, and Euricur activities will typically focus on (or be related with) urban economic development. However, Euricur takes pride of looking into urban economic issues within their broader context, placing strong emphasis in understanding the connections between the economy, society, environment and the institutions that shape urban development. From a policy perspective, Euricur believes that cities can learn from one another, if their contextual differences are properly understood. To this effect, Euricur favours in-depth and multi-disciplinary research to understand differences and similarities that may result in different typologies of cities and urban development processes more amenable to fine-tuned policy formulations.

Key research domains

Euricur research currently falls in three broad domains, closely related to one another. Most projects address these domains simultaneously, yet to different degrees.

  • New urban economies, including issues related with innovation and diversification of urban economies, tourism in cities, smart city development, the green economy, new types of urban manufacturing, internationalisation, the development of new campuses and innovation spaces in cities.
  • Sustainable urban societies, including issues related with energy transitions and climate proofing in cities, the socio-economic impacts of digitalization and associated urban tourism management strategies.
  • Urban organising capacities, including the analysis of new urban actors, coalitions and urban management approaches, distributed urban leadership, city-university partnerships and the changing role of private involvement in urban development.


Here you can find the record of major international research projects of Euricur since the early 1990s.

Up to know, Euricur has initiated and been involved in more than 30 major international urban research projects. Most of them focus on European cities, but increasingly also in other parts of the world.

Euricur projects are typically sponsored by the participating cities, development agencies, international organizations (e.g. URBACT, European Research Framework Programmes), and by the private sector.



Euricur has published a substantial part of its research through academic books with international circulation.

Among other titles, Euricur has built up over the years the Euricur book series, published by Ashgate (now Routledge).

A list of books in the Euricur series and in other major publishing houses can be found below.


Below you can find a list of major scholarly articles based on Euricur research projects. This is a selected list of internationally peer-reviewed articles indexed at the Thompson Reuters ISI Web of Knowledge.

PhD theses

Up until now, Euricur research projects resulted in 11 PhD theses, mostly granted at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Their authors now have positions in academia; local, regional and national administration, and in the private sector.

People and universities