What does the NWG Innovation Festival have in store for 2019?

By Nigel Watson, NWG Group Information Services Director

With Northumbrian Water’s biggest ever Innovation Festival only two weeks away the festival founder and creator Nigel Watson shares his thoughts on how it’s shaping up.

Here at NWG we are hurtling inexorably towards our third Innovation Festival at an alarming, and quite unbelievable rate. 

It’s only two weeks away and Im feeling both excited about what we have organised (it really is set to be our biggest and most exciting festival yet!) and a slight discomfort about what we might have forgotten.

To be fair, I do revel in a little bit of unease; it helps to keep me on my toes.

I really think we’ve got some great content in the sprints this year and a really good mix of diverse skills and backgrounds, which is a key part of making sure the festival is a success.

Although the subject matters for the sprints may, at first glance, range from the wild to the wonderful, they all have a purpose. They all play a part in helping us achieve our PR19 business plans going forward.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what insights we can get from our data hacks on Interruptions to Supply and Water Quality. These are huge issues for us and directly impact on our customers.

Exploring the benefits of 5G for water companies could really change the game when it comes to cutting edge customer service. Whatever comes from that sprint will be really exciting.

And we’re also digging deeper into underground mapping, developing the digital twins and cloudbusting!

Our twenty plus, yes 20 plus, sprints, dashes, darts, hacks and streams will focus on solving big problems that will help us make big differences for our customers.

And that’s why we do it.

We are currently out recruiting for participants for the sprints and hacks and if you’re interested in coming along then you’ve only got until June 28th to apply. Get on the website for lots of information and instructions on how to join.

We’re keen to have representatives from across North East business involved, and we’re sure that anyone taking part would pick up some great insights to take back to their own teams too. The feedback from attendees in previous years has been hugely positive, and we want to make sure this is an event that creates benefits for the whole North East business community.

There’s a wide range of expertise and experience that will be relevant to the different sprints, so please check out the website for details. The interests we’re on the lookout for range from data analytics to the hospitality sector to the construction sector, and even ballet – there is something for just about anyone!

If you want to have your mind blown, have a look at the organisations that are joining us. We have some great partners hosting the challenges with us, but it goes way beyond that.

For example, AO.com are joining us together with representatives from several government departments. We’ve even got someone from high-end fashion company END joining us

I think that speaks volumes about us as an organisation in terms of our openness and how effective we are at networking.

Finishing on a personal note. As you can imagine, festival week is all-consuming for me.

To help balance it out a bit, I’m involving quite a few members of my family in proceedings.

My wife will be there with her shots – turmeric, ginger and apple in case you are wondering! I highly recommend them if you want a guilt-free jolt first thing in the morning.

My twins will also be on site as volunteers – the festival provides lots of great opportunities for work experience for young people. They are the employees and customers of the future, so having them part of the festival is so important.

In fact, we think it’s so important we’ll be having more than 1700 students, pupils and young people through the doors and taking part in our STEAM programme this year.

And we can’t wait!

Visit www.innovationfestival.org for more information on NWG’s Innovation Festival.

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