Cities around the world are under pressure from population growth, frenetic global economic restructuring, and climatic perturbations. Some, like London, attract an excess of speculative, momentum or tax-informed inward investment to finance their intensification. Provincial towns, on the other hand, which sustain extractive metropolii, can wither without capital or talent. Sensible planning and calibrated regional investment is the antidote to polarisation but confronts an apparent ‘smart’ or ‘sustainable’ conundrum. Grandiose, technical megaprojects like Songdo or Masdar cities and sprawling, disconnected estates are an anathema. We articulate a putative smart and sustainable solution (‘smart-SUR’) with ‘institutional’, ‘project’ and innovative ‘funding’ components and explore mega-urban regeneration projects in the UK and Holland. Smart-SUR has geographical, procedural and teleological aspects. Its mechanism involves local engagement, institutional strengthening, tight project screening and innovative regenerative funding. Its outcome are inclusive, measured, and coordinated transformations which ‘sweat’ existing assets, counter the long-tail of educational failure, and catalyse productive local innovation.