Following on from the success of last year′s inaugural Innovation Festival, the Northumbrian Water Group last week announced that it was bringing its Innovation Festival back to the North East this summer.

The five day event will see major national and global companies working with innovation experts, regional businesses, local universities, schools and members of the public to come up with and explore innovative ways to help change the world.


Today the water company releases the 13 questions that the crack teams of experts will be getting stuck into during the festival:

1. Starting from scratch - How do you create the ‘perfect′ water company?
Sponsored and led by IBM, the sprint team will explore what the ideal water company would look like if you could create it from scratch today? How digital could it be? What are the possibilities if there are no limits ?

2. Going deeper underground - Can we build an underground map of the UK?
Geospatial data and mapping experts Ordnance Survey will lead a sprint team in exploring the possibility and benefits of creating an underground dataset and map of the UK. What will they find? And how will this help infrastructure companies going forward?

3. Smart Objectives - Smart devices are filling up our homes. How can we improve customers′ lives by making the most of Smart technology?
Global IT and business process services firm CGI will lead this sprint looking at how we can maximise the customer benefits that smart technology can bring.

4. Fans for life - How to build advocacy with our communities and customers
Market research experts Explain Market Research will be heading up the sprint team looking at how companies and business from across the world build fan bases and what they can do to turn customers into fans. How do you change ‘likes′ into loyalty and turn sales into supporters, Explain will lead the way.

5. ‘Testing the water′ - How can the use of Digital Twins improve our future?
Newcastle University will lead the discussions into Digital twins - a cutting edge approach that allows companies like NASA to test out and try their builds before sending them into space. How can this tech help other companies, organisations and communities in the future?

6. Moving on - What will the future of transport look like?
Self-driving cars. Hyperloops. Space travel. Just how will future generations get around? Northern Gas Networks will lead the sprint that explores what the future of transport looks like for business and commuters.

7. Green planet - How can we become a carbon positive company?
Comms giants BT will lead the way when exploring how large companies can use innovation to become carbon neutral and carbon positive companies. Big shoes to fill following the creation of England′s first moss tree in Newcastle on the back of IF17.

8. Smiling happy people power - How can we create a happier more productive work force?
O2 are leading the sprint exploring what employers can do to make sure their employees are happy, healthy and safe while at work. People are the most important thing in any organisation, let′s see how innovation can help make their lives better!

9. Building blocks - How can innovation and tech improve Design, Construction Operation and Maintenance?
Construction company Interserve will look at how innovation can improve major construction projects. Delving into how modern technology like 3D printing, VR and Augmented Reality can improve build times, quality and also help save money in the industry.

10. Vision of the future - How can we improve the lives of people who are visually impaired?
One in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime and everyday around 250 people in the UK start to lose their sight. In this sprint CBI and Northumbrian Water customer service experts will team up to explore what can be done through innovation and tech to help those with a visual impairment at home and at work.

11. Every drop counts - How and why do we need to save water?
The average person in the UK currently uses around 150l of water per day. Other European countries manage on less. Water is precious and every drop counts. The team at The Big Bang Partnership will lead the discussion on what we can all do to save water and protect this vital resource.

12. Blue Planet: Teenager sprint - How can we reduce the impact of single use plastics?
The Blue Planet TV Series highlighted the impact of plastics on marine life and has started a cultural shift towards single use plastics. This sprint, headed up by Isle Utilities, will mix industry experts with teenagers from across the North East to come up with ideas on how to reduce our dependency on plastics.

13. Fighting flooding - How can we reduce the risk and build for the future?
Flooding can affect the health, infrastructure, economy and safety of a community. Joining up and sharing information provides an opportunity to make communities more resilient and better off. Durham University experts will lead this sprint exploring how we can put into practice DEFRA′s 25-year plan for the environment and the UK government′s pledge "to leave our environment in a better state than we found it" for the north east.

The festival will be held between July 9th and July 13th at Newcastle Racecourse. For more information visit