Mutually beneficial relations along rural – peri-urban – urban trajectories can contribute substantially to Europe’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth agenda. Success in creating synergies is largely determined by decisions made at local and regional levels. Well-designed governance arrangements can be conducive to decisions that strengthen beneficial relations between rural and urban areas. Central to ROBUST is a place-based case study approach in which the case studies focus on thematic functional linkages cutting across rural-urban areas. The content and governance of these functional linkages are analyzed in diverse case study areas that represent the main types of rural – peri-urban – urban settings across Europe. ROBUST will identify and strengthen policies, governance systems and practices that can contribute more effectively to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Particular attention will be paid to the capacities of municipal and regional governments, the related administrations and other stakeholders to deliver and enhance mutually beneficial relations. ROBUST aims to provide practice-oriented information about successful governance models applicable to different settings as well as related communication and training material. In ROBUST, the questions and research needs of practice partners will guide the research process. Researchers will support the related multi-actor consultations through data collection and analysis, by providing suitable platforms and through facilitation. The insights co-generated by research and practice partners and stakeholders will be translated into tools, including scenario development, as well as training materials and capacity building measures. ROBUST will in this way contribute to a better understanding of rural-urban interactions, and it will at the same time enhance the capacity of relevant actors and institutions to foster mutually beneficial relations along rural – peri-urban – urban trajectories.