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Professor Matthew Cook

Profile summary

Professional biography

Prior to academic life, Matthew worked for 11 years as a professional spatial planner specialising in urban regeneration and sustainability.  He returned to university in 1999 as Research Assistant on a UK Government funded project and completed a doctorate in Innovation and Sustainability.  Following an appointment as Lecturer at Cranfield University in 2003, Matthew joined the Open University in 2009 where he is now Professor of Innovation and leads the Future Urban Environments research team and Technology and Innovation Management qualification.  

Research interests

Matthew's research interests are in innovation and the development of more sustainable urban environments.  Working at the intersection of innovation studies and urban studies his work recognises the situatedness of innovation and the inherent spatiality of this complex socio-technical process.  Much of his current work is concerned with critical perspectives on the governance of smart city innovations, such as urban energy and transport systems, and the policy mobilities that play a profound role in their (re)construction.  

Matthew uses a variety of qualitative research methods including longitudinal case study, ethnography and discourse analysis.  He has secured funding for research from several sources including the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, European Union and various firms from the private sector.  

Teaching interests

Matthew's teaching interests are in innovation and urban development.  He is Qualification Lead for Technology and Innovation Management and Presentation Team Chair of the post graduate module T849 Strategic Capabilities for Technological Innovation.  He is also lead author of a new block concerned with cities and sustainability which will form part of the revised module U116 Environment: Journeys Through a Changing World.

External collaborations

Matthew has developed a number of effective external collaborations with public and private sector organisations including Milton Keynes Council, CGI, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, British Standards Institute, Western Power Distribution.  


Matthew has strong international links with universities in Northern Europe.  He has worked on complex system approaches to urban planning with Drs Ward Rauws and Terry van Dijk from Groningen University, The Netherlands.  He has a strong relationship around teaching and research projects focused on product service systems in cities with Professor Tim McAloone, Danish Technical University, Denmark.  

Finally, he has developed an effective and enduring collaboration on sustainability and innovation in both cities and the food and farming sector with the Swedish Life Sciences University, Uppsala, Sweden, where he is now August T Larsson Visiting Scholar.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Design GroupGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology


Externally funded projects Residential Wireless Charging Demonstrator
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Jan 202031 Mar 2022Innovate UK

The proposed research forms part of a bid to the OLEV/Innovate UK call for innovation projects to deliver creative new designs and technologies for low-cost, scalable charging solutions for electric vehicle users without access to off-street parking. This will be done through a demonstrator project to explore the technical options, business models and institutional arrangements required for deploying wireless charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in public spaces. The demonstrator will have a duration of 18 months and will recruit users, community groups and local authorities at three locations -The London borough of Redbridge, the new town of Milton Keynes and a town in Buckinghamshire - allowing an exploration of the role that wireless EV charging infrastructures can play in a variety of urban contexts. The growth in the use of electric vehicles (EVs) needs to accelerate if the targets to reduce transport's C02 emissions are to be achieved as well as meeting health standards for city air quality. The “Road to Zero” strategy published by UK government calls for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. However, the provision of sufficient charging points to support such a large number of EVs might prove challenging. The provision of charging infrastructure in public spaces will be an important part of the solution, as OLEV estimates indicate that 44% of the motorists in London and 30% in the rest of the UK do not have access to off-street parking. It is not clear that the existing charging point network can be simply scaled up, as a large-scale deployment of wired chargers would create street clutter and the cables connecting the vehicles to the charging points would constitute a health and safety risk for pedestrians. The provision of wireless charging in cities may be useful for reducing street clutter and eliminating the trip hazard. However, the deployment of wireless charging points raises a set of issues that could hold back this policy approach, for example local authorities may be unwilling to install wireless charging points unless the technology is clearly supported by automakers but manufacturers may be hesitant to add wireless charging capabilities to their vehicles if cities do not have the infrastructure to support them. There is a need for a more in-depth understanding of the institutional arrangements necessary to support the successful introduction of wireless charging technologies, to be developed through an exploration of the strategies, culture and practices of industry actors, local authorities, lead users, and ultimately of the communities in which the new infrastructures will be deployed. Thus the proposed socio-technical research programme will amplify the impact of the technical and practical work conducted by partners including and the University of Warwick. By developing an understanding of the connections between the social and technical, including innovation intermediaries, product service systems and business models, we will develop a better understanding of the mechanisms through which wireless charging infrastructures might encourage EV adoption in residential areas where conventional wired charging points cannot be conveniently installed. Primary data will be produced through in-depth interviews, lead-user workshops and long-term engagement with relevant community groups (e.g., “Ilford Transition Town” in Redbridge and “Future Wolverton” in Milton Keynes). We will also seek insight on and collaboration with industry actors that can contribute to the emerging wireless charging ecosystem and amplify the impact of the demonstrator.

OLEV/Innovate UK Feasibility Study Bid
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Jan 201931 Mar 2019Innovate UK

The growth in the use of electric vehicles (EVs) needs to accelerate if the targets to reduce transport’s C02 emissions are to be achieved as well as meeting health standards for city air quality. Some key commercial transport sectors (e.g. taxis, service vehicles and delivery vans) have the potential for rapid EV adoption, but operators in these sectors have shown little interest in EVs, one factor being the need to use wired charging. The provision of wireless charging in cities could help, but for success there is a need for a more in-depth understanding of the culture, practices and business models of businesses in these sectors. The feasibility study would involve reviewing how wireless charging could play a role in possible technical options and business practices/models for taxi and on demand minivan operations in Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes has undertaken a number of EV innovation initiatives that have provided experience and understandings that can be applied elsewhere. A technical review will take place on potential EVs and charging systems, their performance and cost. This will involve an exploration with operators and cab driver/owners to understand what combinations of charging infrastructure would encourage them towards commercial EV operations. Ways to manage risk and appropriate MK Council support actions would form part of the exploration. The feasibility study would provide the technical and business/institutional specification for the main project, which would be the trial implementation and monitoring of the identified combination of wireless charging infrastructure, supporting actions and business model systems for these sectors. The project is led by the company eFIS (Electric Fleet Integrated Services), who has managed the successful introduction of wireless-charged electric buses in Milton Keynes. The other project partners are the Open University, Milton Keynes Council and the University of Warwick.

PhD Studentship - Exploring UK energy futures: implications, opportunities and risks
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Feb 201731 Jan 2020CGI Group

The UK electricity sector is at a point of change in response to both internal and external pressures: potential new demands for transport and heat; policies to cut carbon emissions and the resultant increased use of renewables; the development of smart grids and new entrants into the sector. However, exactly how the UK electricity sector will change in response to these stimuli is unclear. Indeed, there could be several futures, creating implications, opportunities and risks for key actors. This PhD explores, with experts in the field, some of these futures and the potential implications they will have for Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) among other key actors.