Nicholas Falk

Category: 1960s /  All Harkness Stories /  Creative Arts, Design & Architecture /  Economics, Finance & Business /  International Affairs / 

Nicholas Falk (HF 1967-69) worked on product development for Ford to learn about successful multi-national companies, after doing PPE at Oxford. His thought that there must be better management techniques to explain why the UK economy lagged behind the USA, took him to Stanford Business School in California. However, he found it was the culture that explained business success at the expense of hollowing out of cities. Actively involved in student politics, he helped the spin off of Stanford Research Institute from the university to cut links with the Defence Department. Returning with an MBA, he spent three years at McKinsey. This was followed by a doctorate at the London School of Economics on how towns and cities develop; an action research project in Rotherhithe in London’s Docklands, tested out ideas for reusing old industrial buildings inspired by what he had seen in San Francisco. Always keen to link academic research to practical applications, in 1976 he founded URBED (Urban and Economic Development), which offers practical solutions to urban regeneration and local economic development. He recently published a report on the application of smart city principles to London. In 2014 URBED won the Wolfson Economics Prize for showing how to build garden cities that were visionary, viable and popular.  He is currently focusing on two projects: Oxford Futures on how to double the size of the city maintaining its position as a knowledge hub and applying ‘smarter urbanisation’ principles to the growth of medium sized cities in Tamil Nadu, India.