What I learned at the Northumbrian Innovation Festival
Author : Megan Clarkson
Representing team VAPAR, CEO Amanda Siqueira and myself headed to join the activities of the Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival, where the aim of this festival is to tackle community issues and encourage the collaboration of innovators to brainstorm solutions and pathways and tackle the pain points of the issues highlighted for the festival.
But before we get too deep into the problem-solving aspect of our sprint, here’s how our first morning kicked off.
Walking into the venue, we were greeted by friendly faces, high energy and even a professional juggler, and after a much-needed coffee, we gathered into the main festival tent for our welcome. Singing golden oldies and lifting our spirits, the High Row Gospel Ensemble began the festival by setting the crowd at ease. However, Nigel Watson and Heidi Mottram brought us back to business and gave us some more insight as to what the theme of the festival is all about: Untapped Potential.
This festival aims to revolutionise the water industry by solving issues within areas such as climate change, population growth, affordability issues, customer service and environmental care driven by sprints of innovation. Collaboration is the key word, where members from different marketplaces have been invited to join and to bring different perspectives and different ideas and to try to push the boundaries as we work together and are encouraged to try to solve these issues. Fortunately, after some motivational words by guest speaker Sara Davies from Dragon’s Den, we left for our sprint.
Sara Davies shared her inspiring story
HMS Sewer Sprint
We were invited to take part in the Team HMS Sewer sprint, sponsored by 1Spatial, and our first day was all about setting the scene: what is the problem and who does it affect?
From various speakers in the water industry, we were exposed to the issues resulting from the transition of public pipes becoming private; who now owns these pipes, and where are these pipes? The lack of clear pipe mapping to answer these questions have left water utilities wasting time on the job trying to find pipes, map them in the field and then try to figure out who has ownership of these pipes, and thus who fixes them?
After a day full of presentations, we wrapped up the afternoon with fun demonstrations of pipe inspections, sound tests and special CCTV equipment.
After some much needed rest, we were excited to tackle the issues we identified on day 1.
That’s where day two’s theme came in: how can we solve these issues? Amongst other supply chain providers, we spent the day showcasing our solutions in between creative activity breaks where we, VAPAR, alongside Minicam, shared our valuable insights and useful technology capabilities. To close the second day off in our sprint, we participated in what was called ‘Dragons’ Den’ questioning, where we got to answer questions sparked from our presentation. After many discussions, we ended the day by joining the rest of the festival in some networking.
Takeaways from the festival
The remainder of the week covered building the business case and thereafter conducting a technical discussion and developing the ideal solution. But the important take aways from this experience was showcasing how valuable it is when different sectors in the industry come together to solve problems that our communities are facing every day.
The Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival has set the bar high on how engaging conferences can be fun and informative whilst also creating an environment to meet new people, share different perspectives and showcase creative solutions.
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VAPAR automates sewer and stormwater pipe condition assessment for councils, utilities and CCTV contractors. Learn how we help improve the monitoring and maintenance of the underground pipes using AI.