Thousands of innovators from businesses across the world took part in Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival 2023

Over a thousand North East school pupils descended on Newcastle Racecourse last week, together with thousands of innovators from businesses across the world, all as part of Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival 2023.

Over four action-packed days, more than 2,500 people from 700 plus global organisations have researched, developed and worked their way through the equivalent of 38 years’ worth of work to come up with new ideas and solutions to challenges faced by the water sector.

They were joined by over a thousand young people from schools across Tyneside taking part in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities, with some great teamwork and problem solving happening from the innovation stars of the future.

The whole event was focused on a series of challenges which explored key topics ranging from; how to reduce the number of leaks from the water network, how jobseekers can find roles easier based on their location and how the company and local authorities can create a one-stop shop for customers to report flooding.

Industry professionals were joined by engineers, local businesses, students, designers and members of the public on a number of ‘sprints’ – workshop-style sessions which follow a five-stage process, to develop solutions.

Some of the big ideas to come out of the week include:

  • a new approach to energy at Northumbrian Water’s operational sites that will boost resilience and help reduce carbon footprint.
  • a first-of-a-kind map that will show where the job opportunities are in the North East.
  • a joined-up approach to flooding management.

Inspiration came from the key speakers including celebrity cook and one half of the Hairy Bikers, Si King, 17-year-old influencer Tilly Lockey, author of ‘Citizens’ book and inspiration for this year’s festival theme, Jon Alexander, and entrepreneur, Ben Keene.

Festival goers were treated to a number of activities during the week, including LEGO pits, dance-offs and kindness stones, to help with their wellbeing and to keep their creativity flowing.

Northumbrian Water’s Head of Innovation, Angela MacOscar, said:

Innovation Festival 2023

“Well that’s our seventh festival under our belt and what a week it’s been!

“We’ve seen huge numbers of people from all over the world join us here in the North East, to focus on innovation and make a difference.

“The ambition from the young people we’ve had on site during the week has also left us feeling so optimistic about the future.

“But this is not just the best week we’ve ever have at work, we’ve seen some very new ideas that we think could go on to really change how we operate and we’d like to thank everyone who has taken part.

“It might be the end of the festival, but it’s just the beginning for some of these exciting ideas.”



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