Last week Wave attended the NWG Innovation Festival at Newcastle Racecourse, which took place over four days and focused on collaboration and innovation across a variety of industries. It was our first time sponsoring a sprint for the festival and was a fantastic opportunity to connect with other passionate businesses and generate new ideas.
Day 1: Understanding the problem
Our sprint, Dewatering the economy: How can we accommodate growth and reduce business water demand? Began on Monday with an introduction and overview from our Head of Operations, Oli Shelley. The sprint focused on the non-household water market and DEFRA’s 9% reduction target for businesses. The questions we wanted to answer, with the help of people across the water industry and beyond, were:
- What innovative solutions could be developed to support businesses in reducing their water consumption?
- What tools could be created to help relevant industry segments establish a clear investment case for the change?
While we geared up for a couple of full days sprinting, we took the opportunity to explore more of the festival, which included a teepee, face painting, tattoos, and a volleyball beach!
Day 2: Defining the problem
This was when the sprint really kicked into action. Speakers from organisations such as Waterwise, MOSL and MEUC joined us to discuss the need to save water and the importance of water efficiency, as well as the topics such as energy efficiency, smart metering and water neutrality. After a break, where we had a visit from the hilarious singing poets, we’d worked up an appetite. The festival offered rice bowls, salads and fish and chips for lunch, as well as a sweet shop with all our favourites.
At the end of the day our three groups each compiled a statement that defined the problem, ready to take into the next stage of the sprint.
Day 3: The search for a solution
On the penultimate day of the festival, we dove into the problem-solving part of the sprint. Between talks from MOSL and Ofwat about the potential for funding, our teams worked in groups and individually to discuss concepts and narrow down a shortlist of ideas to develop into potential solutions. The MBA students from Newcastle University, winners of NWL MBA Water Efficiency Challenge Competition, joined us to present their impressive “Blue Crown” concept, which focuses on water efficiency in the hospitality industry.
By the end of the day, we had three working solutions for problems that focused on shared accountability, customer awareness around private pipework, and effective business water management plans. After that, we cooled off with some free ice cream in the sunshine and readied ourselves for some solution shaping!
Day 4: Final ideas and next steps
The last day of the festival was for challenging and stress testing the ideas from previous days, exploring and refining our core potential solutions. After a motivational lightning talk from Ben Keene, final ideas were presented and discussed in detail, and we were delighted to see such innovative and well thought out solutions to the issue we put forward at the start of the week. We wrapped up at lunchtime (earlier than most of the sprints, which is a testament to how hard everyone worked!) and Wave sat down with our sprint leads from Northumbrian Water to discuss and prepare to present one final idea. Ultimately, we decided customer awareness around private pipework was an impactful solution that would be most beneficial to business customers, so this is the one we chose to take forward.
It was a fantastic week, full of valuable insights, important conversations, and of course, lots of laughter! Keep an eye out for more on our progress in the coming months.