Water companies collaborate to solve joint challenges
In an industry first, two of the country’s biggest water companies are joining forces for a three-day innovation event which will bring some of the most progressive and creative minds from across the globe to the east of England.
Anglian Water and Northumbrian Water Group will present Innovate East at Trinity Park Showground, Ipswich on 10, 11 and 12 September 2019.
Innovate East will challenge utility experts, academics, engineers, scientists, commercial businesses, students and customers to work together to develop solutions to a number of issues currently facing the water industry, the region and society through a series of fast-paced sprints and hackathons. These highly collaborative approaches to problem solving result in tangible outputs being developed in just a few days, shortcutting the typically lengthy development process.
Anglian Water and Northumbrian Water, which operates as Essex & Suffolk Water in the south east, are both members of the ‘Leading Utilities of the World’ group, which represents the world’s most forward-thinking water and wastewater companies, and recognises how they are leading the way for innovation in the water industry. Using their links with water companies across the globe, they aim to bring international thinking to Innovate East, complementing the breakthrough work already being achieved in the region.
Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water Group said: “I’m really looking forward to welcoming people from around the globe to Innovate East, bringing some of the world’s leading innovative minds together to develop collective solutions for the benefit of our customers now and many years into the future.
“The pace of change is now huge, with new technologies arriving all the time and the expectations of our customers rising. Therefore, it is vital that as an industry we are working together to provide the best services we can.
“Collaboration is critical to delivering innovative solutions for our customers, environment and communities, and great ideas come when you bring people of all different backgrounds together to take a fresh look at some long-standing challenges.”
Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Anglian Water said: “We live in a volatile and uncertain environment where change is constant. This of course brings challenges but also tremendous opportunity. To prosper we must work more closely together than ever, unlocking greater levels of innovation and collectively finding solutions to big national and global problems.
“At Anglian Water we are constantly exploring, learning and evolving so we can continue to be a water company fit for the future. We want to attract the brightest and most collaborative minds to the east, to work on tackling the challenges and opportunities we face so we can find solutions which benefit everyone.
“The big ideas we generate through Innovate East will be game changers. We’re excited about working with everyone involved and unlocking ideas which will make a real difference to our customers, our environment and to wider society as a whole.”
Innovate East will address major challenges that water companies and other large organisations are facing, such as water scarcity, climate change, protecting the environment and delivering for customers. The event will bring leading thinkers from across the globe to create innovative solutions in the following four main themes –
Social Purpose – Exploring how companies can make a real impact in their communities, raising the level of digital skills amongst young people and addressing how we can become a more sustainable society.
Natural Capital – The environment is everyone’s responsibility and some of the most pressing challenges facing the east of England centre on our natural surroundings. Attendees will explore how the relationship between agriculture, water and energy can allow biodiversity against the backdrop of climate change.
Digital Twins – A digital twin is a digital replica of a physical entity. There will be billions of things represented by digital twins over the next five years, so Innovate East will look at how the water industry can evolve further to sit at the forefront of this transformation. Leakage – Water companies are already using innovative technology to reduce leaks, but how can they take bigger steps to cut waste further? Sprints and hackathons will target how significant steps can be taken in the war on leakage, and how inspiration can be drawn from other sectors.
As well as the series of sprints and hackathons there will also be a number of complementary activities at Innovate East, including a live climate change-based STEM challenge involving 60 pupils, live streamed to another 600 pupils around the region.
More announcements on Innovate East will be made over the coming weeks. You can register your interest in the event and find out more at innovateeast.org.uk.