We are an efficient and innovative company
Every year we find new ways to spark bright ideas to solve our biggest challenges. From festivals, apps and trial facilities, we are embedding an innovative culture at every step.

Innovation at NWG has gone from strength to strength this year. Here are a few examples:


We’ve developed a new innovation pipeline and process so we can focus on generating ideas to tackle the big challenges set out in our business plan. Our new innovation ambassadors are central to this. They’re spreading an innovative culture to make the generation of new ideas business as usual.


Though we drive innovation all year round, our Innovation Festivals are our focal point. The events attract participants from across the globe and their main purpose is to create new ideas to improve our business.

This year, we had more than 3,000 people join us from 734 organisations. This diversity represents a huge breadth and depth of experience that we would not otherwise be able to tap into. The professional services value of this contribution is estimated to be in the range of £5m - £6m.

In September 2019 we held Innovate East as a joint event with Anglian Water over three days in Ipswich. This was a first of its kind for the industry and attracted more than 250 organisations. We combined forces with Anglian Water to invest £100,000 in ideas that we felt could take our businesses and the industry forward.


In 2019 we launched Amplify, an idea management platform designed to harness the creativity and expertise of our employees, supply chain, eco-system and beyond.

We are also busy creating Drop Zones to fast forward good ideas. These are challenge and demonstration areas where a range of innovative technologies and ideas can be piloted, and then rapidly scaled up across our business if successful.

Our Plan 2020-25:
We are an innovative and efficient company.

Our ambitious goal for leading in innovation is to be leading in innovation within the water sector and beyond.

Case Study - 4.8 million people to benefit as we harness the power of 5G
We’ve joined forces with O2 and Ericsson to conduct a series of trials to harness the power of 5G connectivity and revolutionise the way we supply 1.1 billion litres of water a day to our customers.

Across our business we require a range of technical skills and competencies to manage the logistical challenge of maintaining water in our supply areas and the wastewater services across the North East region.


5G-enabled augmented reality (AR) technology allows experienced technicians to remotely guide on-the-ground teams through complex tasks by relaying real-time data and instructions, creating ‘Remote Experts’. The technology also allows multiple experts to join one call simultaneously, adding valuable second opinions.

The rollout of O2’s 5G network, launched in October 2019, is providing faster speeds and greater network coverage to places that need it most. It enables us to explore opportunities that will increase productivity, efficiency and safety. O2 and Ericsson also created a Private Network Installation for us to guarantee uninterrupted network access and capacity for the business.

The first set of trials will also focus on three other key areas:

  • Home Water Maintenance app This allows consumers to monitor their home’s water supply and flow, identifying any unusual patterns to flag potential issues ahead of time.
  • AR Mapping: Using 5G-powered AR to provide a 3D representation of buried assets for technicians. If successful the technology could be extended to cover the layout of over 47,210km of water mains, pipes and conduits and would help engineers manage risks and hazards in real-time.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Management: Allowing field technicians and engineers to quickly access and upload crucial data from our central GIS database, without requiring a Wi-Fi or cable connection.


Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at O2, said: “NWG have been a fantastic advocate for the possibilities of 5G for UK business, and are a great example of how 5G can change the way we do things in the utilities sector and beyond. This is a significant milestone as we bring new capabilities to make real changes in people’s everyday lives.

“We firmly believe 5G will continue to bring major new technological capabilities that will support entirely new business models, sectors, and more efficient ways of working.”


Martin Jackson, our Head of Strategy & Enterprise Architecture, added: “5G is set to completely transform the way we live and work, creating exciting new possibilities and improvements for our business, our customers and the environment.


“This is the first time a trial like this has ever been done by a water company and we’re incredibly proud to be leading the way in the utilities sector.”