Last week two of the country′s leading water companies came together to hold one of the biggest innovation events the eastern region has ever seen.

More than 1,800 people representing 250 different organisations attended Innovate East at Trinity Park Showground in Ipswich, which was organised jointly by Essex & Suffolk Water and Anglian Water in an industry-first collaboration.


The aim of the event was to bring together some of the most creative and progressive minds from across the globe, and encourage them to create new ways of thinking in a unique and exciting environment.


Utility experts were joined by academics, engineers, scientists, students and customers to focus on developing solutions around four key themes - Social Purpose, Natural Capital, Digital Twins and Leakage.


The event created an ideal environment for open innovation, creativity and collaboration with 14,000 individual connections made by attendees across the three days.


As well as the sprints and hackathons there was also 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.


Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Essex & Suffolk Water said: "Innovate East was a fantastic event, and it was truly inspiring to see some of the world′s leading innovative minds descend on Trinity Park to take a fresh look at the some of the key challenges we are currently facing as an industry and beyond.


"We saw an incredible amount of creative and inspiring ideas coming out of the event, and now we turn our attention to testing, modifying and finalising these ideas to the point where they can hopefully make a real difference to our industry, customers and wider society.


"Collaboration is key to delivering innovative solutions for our customers, and we saw that in abundance at Innovate East, with 14,000 individual connections made and a number of new relationships and partnerships formed that will be essential to achieving our goals going forward. Innovate East 2019 was just the beginning of this journey, and we have some very exciting times ahead.


"We would like to thank all of our sponsors, partners and guests who all played their part in making this event such a success."


Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Anglian Water said: "Innovate East clearly demonstrated the pinnacle in a new way of collaborative working. I′m proud of the partnership between Anglian and Essex and Suffolk Water which has really set the benchmark for truly open innovation across the water industry.


"It was amazing to see the amount of energy and new ideas that were generated simply by giving people the freedom to think outside of their usual silos. This way of working is part of our DNA, now, more than ever, and this is just the beginning for some of these solutions, which will hopefully go on to make a real difference to the water industry and beyond.


"A big thank you to everyone who took part and we look forward to seeing you next time we get together to discuss our biggest challenges for the future of our region."


Innovate East took place in a unique environment, which also featured live music, yoga and mindfulness activities, tech demonstrations, a quiz night and even musical bingo!


A number of celebrity guests also dropped in over the three days to provide inspirational speeches and check out what was being created in the sprints and hacks, including TV legend Carol Vorderman, technology reporter Kate Russell, writer and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe and Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Blacks.


The final day of Innovate East saw each sprint and hack report back to attendees on the big ideas they had developed and worked on during the event, focusing on the 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 - 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 looked at how the water industry can evolve further to sit at the forefront of the 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 hack looked at what significant steps can be taken in the war on leakage, and how inspiration can be drawn from other sectors.


Highlights and updates from the event are available at