This paper reports on the development and early deployment stages of an on-going local government 'insider-researcher' network. This represents a new model for research engagement and development between regional universities and local councils. It serves as an infrastructure to generate multi-level benefits to the parties involved. That is: the development of knowledge and skills for the individual council employee participant; research and action on strategic projects for the councils involved; and, collaboration, knowledge development and exchange between councils and local tertiary institutions. This model may provide impetus to other councils seeking ways to build their internal capabilities and capacities to be able to respond effectively to the diverse challenges faced in the regional government sector. Over time, the numerous and multidisciplinary research outputs generated from such an initiative contribute to sector knowledge and councils' abilities to initiate and lead effective changes in policy settings and sector practices.