Innovators from across the globe are putting plans in place to improve business efficiency and battle home-working isolation following Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival 2020.

The festival, which was held entirely online for the first-time last month (SEPT), saw almost 3,000 individuals from 37 countries come together to create solutions to 'build back better’ following the impact of COVID-19.


While teaming up with some locally-based brands, including Siemens and Sunderland University, as well as other world-renowned companies, innovators looked closely at several challenges that businesses are currently up against.


Some teams decided to tackle the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and focussed on different methods of working from home whilst remaining connected with co-workers.


IT giants Ntegra set out plans to develop a virtual “watercooler” space where individuals can remain in touch with colleagues, whilst utility providers Isle and Schneider teamed up to create a roadmap on how to increase diversity within the water sector.


Other teams looked at bringing physical products into the market in order to improve safety and efficiency.


Cyber-security firm Wipro Limited, designed a wearable safety device that monitors biometrics to prevent accidents before they happen, whilst a team working with Sunderland University looked at the best ways in which to reduce blockages in sewers.


Mobile operators O2 focussed their creative process on developing an IoT device which will reduce repeat flooding in consumers’ homes.


Some of the other teams, including Ordnance Survey and MGISS, spent the week concentrating on more data-centric approaches whilst looking at using maps and satellites to improve performance.


Nigel Watson, Information Services Director at Northumbrian Water, said: “Over the years, we have been able to watch as ideas stemming from the festival have grown into very real products, which have benefitted both businesses and employees massively.


“This is an extremely exciting time for us, and although the festival is now over, the work is only just beginning as we start to see the development and creative processes of each product.


“I am looking forward to seeing the fruition of all of these ideas and see what our ‘class of 2020’ can bring to life.”


The most successful concepts developed from some of the previous festivals have been made into real-life projects. 

Examples of previous projects include Newcastle’s first pollution-busting moss tree, national underground mapping (NUAR) to help keep utility workers safe and the water-quality project, Dragonfly.


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