In Sydney’s inner north the co-location of a research intensive university, a nationally significant research and business centre and a sector-leading curriculum innovation has opened opportunities to shape an exciting collaborative relationship between Macquarie University and the City of Ryde. In establishing a collaborative agreement for the period 2012-2032, the partners are pursuing a vision that integrates City of Ryde’s innovative approaches to key local government roles with Macquarie’s commitment to research performance and student engagement. The intention is to encourage research that contributes directly to strategy development, community capacity building, urban planning, place making, workforce planning, leadership development, environmental sustainability and the utilisation of technologies to enhance citizen engagement and customer service. The University’s recent curriculum developments require all students to include ‘Participation and Community Engagement’ in their studies, and this has opened exciting opportunities to develop longitudinal research that engages students in data collection and analysis with capacity for high resolution local studies across a range of fields. The role of the Macquarie Park precinct in the global economic corridor identified in the Sydney Metro Strategy has also emerged as a driver of research collaboration, as has a global vision for drawing research capacity into long term service of both the wider local community and the local government’s strategic priorities. This paper explores the challenges and opportunities that emerge from developing this agreement and identifies the possibility of benefits to local communities as a result.