Southampton City Council is believed to be the first local authority in the country to appoint a chief scientific adviser.
Professor AbuBakr Bahaj has taken on the role to champion science and engineering in the local economy and ensure that the city uses science effectively in its policies.
The government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, welcomed the move and said he hoped other local authorities would consider it.
Bahaj is head of the energy and climate change division at the University of Southampton. He will provide the council with expertise on relevant environmental issues, such as the energy efficiency of buildings.
He said: “I'm pleased to be taking up this post at a crucial time for cities. Our aim will be focused on tackling future challenges encountered within cities, such as how a city could operate under a changing climate and resource depletion, and the environmental, social and economic impacts of these changes.”
He added: “The university has some of the world's best engineers and scientists who are working to tackle these challenges and I am proud to be part of the city's thriving scientific community.”
Council leader Dr Richard Williams said: “Excellence in science and engineering is critical to Southampton's prosperity and well-being. His role will be crucial in the future development of the city.”
Sir John Beddington said: “I am delighted that Southampton City Council has decided to follow the example set across central government departments and appoint a chief scientific adviser.
“The role of science and engineering in society and the economy is more important than ever, and Professor Bahaj will have a key role, ensuring that policy makers in the local authority take decisions that make best use of scientific and engineering advances and evidence.
“I hope that other local authorities will follow the example of Southampton and collaborate with leading universities in their own region in this way.”