Innovation Festival creates a pipeline of brilliant ideas

Thousands of people came together at Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival in July to look for new ideas and solutions to challenges faced by the water sector.

A total of 42 game-changing ideas were thought up by the 2,472 people attending the unique event – which was held between 10 and 13 July at Newcastle Racecourse.

It’s believed that these projects have the potential to contribute to a total value of more than £170m for Northumbrian Water over the next five years.

The ideas were born out of a series of sprints, hacks, and dashes – workshop-style sessions which follow a five-stage process to help inspire creativity – and each one focused on a different subject.

The water company is highlighting five projects below which came out of the festival and have already been given kick-starter funding to get them off the ground.

Power Arrangers. This project in partnership with technology company, Siemens, has been given more than £20,000 to start a feasibility study which will look at creating a circular economy for renewable energy. This will make the company’s treatment sites more resilient to power outages using renewable technologies, as well as resulting in big energy savings and a lower carbon footprint.

Net Zero Me. In partnership with Kraken – the technology tentacle of the Octopus Energy Group – this project has been granted £20,000 to develop a mobile app that tracks customers’ energy and water consumption, offering tips and challenges to help reduce usage and lower bills.

Save Our Sewers. Four projects have been identified that can accelerate work already underway to help improve the wastewater network. In partnership with software company, Esri, these include removing highway drainage from our sewer network, creating an interactive map, a citizen water bank which will help customers manage water that goes into the waste network, and a localised project in Marske-by-the Sea which will ensure 100% of the network is used.

Pump Up the Volume. £20,000 has been granted to this project in partnership with technical consultancy, Jacobs. The aim is to develop a Water Cookbook for Northumbrian Water’s network investment and improvement projects which will reduce the concept and design stage costs from between 6% and 9%, down to 3%.

Dewatering the Economy. This project, in partnership with Wave Utilities, has been given £20,000. It will see improved business customers’ awareness around private pipework, mapping their network and helping them to understand their responsibilities. This project is estimated to save 165 million litres of water per day over five years – saving water, money and lowering leaks.

Some of the other ideas to come out of Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival include a first-of-its-kind map that will show where the job opportunities are in the North East, as well as helping a more joined-up approach to flooding management.

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

“These projects are exactly why we hold our Innovation Festival year after year.

“Bringing a diverse group of people together, from different sectors and organisations literally right around the world, allows for lots of different views and ideas to be brought to the table, and that’s where we see these brilliant solutions sparking up.

“All of these ideas and projects are going to feed into a pipeline of innovation which has the potential to really change the way we work and improve things for our customers, and I can’t wait to see how they develop.”



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