urban innovation for emerging cities
urban innovation for emerging cities



Our Story

Utopia is the world's first urban innovation group focused solely on emerging cities and their slums.

We got our feet wet in slums and their cities in Asia years ago and over time, we realized that innovation and design could bring a new perspective to this old issue of slums. Slums are an issue that seems to have gotten stuck even as so much in life has improved around it over this past half century. We moved from Asia into San Francisco to set up what would eventually come to be known as Utopia. Since then we’ve evolved to focus on emerging cities and their slums.


643 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105


Our Team

Utopia is led by four partners - Jonathan Hursh, Marco Brandao, Dori Nguyen and Emmanuel Adegboye. Collectively, our team is a mix of entrepreneurs, designers, urbanists, technologists, behavioral scientists, futurists and lots of zero gravity thinkers on cities. 



Our team is the engine that drives us. 


Jonathan Hursh

Founder + Executive Producer


Emmanuel Adegboye

Managing Partner | Lagos

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Christina Gossmann

Urban Strategist

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Lydia Lo


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Marco Brandao

Managing Partner | Rio

Renata Legierska

Link | United Kingdom

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Vivek HV


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Dori Nguyen

Managing Partner | Kathmandu

Patrick Stephenson

Link | West Africa


Core Advisory Board

Our core advisory board is made up of industry experts and all around creative thinkers and doers.


Dave Blakely

Partner @ mach49 and
Former Head of Tech Strategy @ IDEO

Esther Dyson

Founder @ HICCup and
Board Member @ 23andMe

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Miriam Roure

Program Director @ URBAN-X

Rahul Mehrotra

Chair of Urban Planning and Design
@ Harvard


Sarah Balmond

Director @ Balmond Studio and
Founding Design Editor @ Monocle

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Pia Mancini

Cofounder @ Open Collective and
Chair @ DemocracyEarth


Advisory Council

Our advisory council provide deep insights, make connections, and champion our aim to create a new paradigm for slums.

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John Rossant

Founder @ NewCities
Former Chief Editor of BusinessWeek Europe

Edward Glaeser

Urban Economist @ Harvard and Author of Triumph of the City

Sara Beckman

Chief Learning Officer @ Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation of UC Berkeley

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William Cobbett

Managing Director @
Cities Alliance


Doris Tang

Senior Technical Program Manager @ Google X


Mark Post

Biotechnologist and Maker of First Stem Cell Hamburger

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Mark Cheng

Head @ Ashoka Europe

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Hazem Nakib

Advisory Board Member @ Securrency, Coinfirm, Humaniq


Harry West

CEO @ Frog

Celine d'Cruz

Urban Practitioner @ Asian Coalition for Housing Rights

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Eric Yang

Chairman @ WorkReduce
Founder @ Anomaly Ventures

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Brandon Fuller

Deputy Director @ NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

Monique Morrow

President and Co-Founder @ The Humanized Internet and Former CTO @ Cisco

Luis Bettencourt

Professor of Complex Systems
@ Santa Fe Institute

John Gage

Cofounder @
Sun Microsystems

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Carlo Ratti

Managing Director
@ MIT Senseable City Lab

Rajendra Joshi

Founder & Managing
Trustee @ Saath

Fernando de Sousa

Regional HR Director @ Microsoft (Middle East & Africa)


Our Core Values

Our shared core values guide all aspects of how we run the organization. They tell us how to decide.

Be original. We work on original things. We do the things that are not yet being done well.

Seek simplicity. Complexity is the root of all evil. We seek to get things to their essence, taming complexity.

Look to the future. We act towards the future, keeping an eye out for the world of 2050 our children will inhabit.

Do things that matter. With finite energy and finite time, we seek to spend our time on the essence of the thing.

Do the right thing. In every scenario, in every way, we seek to do the right thing, the just thing.

Bigger is better. Our cities are growing to a massive size. Our ambition has to reflect this.