This case study on the Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO) is an example of a collaboration between provincial government and partner universities. The GCRO shows what it is possible to achieve when using the resources in academia to support the development agenda of the public sector, and when there is commitment from government to generating evidence for policy-making. An important element of this partnership is its dedication to building in-depth knowledge and identifying long-term trends. The GCRO is an exemplar of how the use of data and research can be increased in policy development and implementation. While the government partners are the primary clients, the research outputs are publicly available.