Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival is set to return to the region this summer and they’re bringing some HUGE global names along with them for the ride.

The north-east water company has teamed up with some of the most influential and innovative organisations from right across the globe to host the five day extravaganza in Newcastle again this July.

Between the 8th to the 12th more than 3,000 people are expected to flood through the gates of Newcastle racecourse to take part in a series of sprints, challenges and quests alongside the likes of confirmed partners Microsoft, IBM, CGI, Ford, Wavin, O2, Reece, Aiimi, Wipro Topcoder, and the Institute of Civil Engineers.

Each partner will be heading up their own unique challenge and leading their sprint teams in five action packed days of learning, creating, sharing and innovation.

The teams will be made up of industry experts, academics, scientists, engineers, students and members of the public who will work together to come up with solutions to tackle major social and environmental challenges.

Sprints will begin on the Monday, where delegates will scope and unpack the nature of each problem and work through the week to develop key ideas, and create working prototypes of their ideas and innovations, that will be presented back at the end of the week.

This year’s festival will see 12 ‘sprints’ and two data ‘hacks,’ all focusing on key issues and challenges such as;
– The impact climate change will have on our communities
– The changes 5G networks will make to our lives
– Exploring the vehicles of the future
– Connecting local and rural communities through food and technology

Ordnance Survey will return for the third year to explore the next steps for taking the underground mapping of pipes and cables project even further, following the recent multimillion pound backing from the Government’s Geospatial Commission to carry out a pilot project in the North East.

Newcastle University are also coming back to the festival to build on the work done last year on the ‘Digital Twins’ project, where a virtual model of the real world is currently being created to help with incident management.

Other partners taking part include Northumbrian Water’s supply partners Esh-Stantec, Wood, Interserve, Mott Macdonald Bentley and Integrated Water Services.

Nigel Watson, Northumbrian Water’s Information Services Director, said: “Things are really starting to ramp up and we’re all very excited about this year’s festival, which is set to be our most ambitious year yet.

The appetite to get involved with the festival has been huge, which I think is driven by the fact that we are delivering on some of the ideas that the past events have generated.

Just this week we’ve seen Ordnance Survey and the multi mullion pound government investment in the Underground Mapping project in the national news. The idea came from our first festival and shows that what is happening here is having a real impact on the rest of the world and making a real difference to peoples’ lives.

The festival is a game changer, harnessing the collective brain power of a really diverse group of people, all helping us with our ambition to be innovation leaders and this year’s event is all about driving performance, taking ideas and making them real and producing innovations that will help change the world…and we can’t wait to get started.”

Photo Neil Denham

Northumbrian Water is expecting thousands of people to its Innovation Festival, from business and organisations around the world, as well as around 1,000 North East schoolchildren who will be taking part in various Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (STEAM) activities.

The Festival will also see businesses showcasing their latest innovations and inventions including driverless cars, virtual and augmented reality software, smart devices and much, much, more.

For the latest news and information on the festival visit