North East Connected

Ordnance Survey to Map out Greener Communities at NWG Innovation Festival

Ordnance Survey will lead a group of businesses, academics, students and members of the public in a week-long challenge to identify ways of improving the environment.

The focus on how businesses can contribute towards greener communities comes as part of Northumbrian Water Group’s (NWG) Innovation Festival, which will bring together some of the world’s leading businesses to tackle major social and environmental challenges.

The festival aims to harness the best innovative minds, using design ‘sprint’ thinking to explore and create new solutions to a range of issues. ‘Sprints’ apply leading design thinking techniques to problem solving.

Ordnance Survey will lead a sprint on greener communities at the festival, which takes place at Newcastle Racecourse from July 10 to July 14, with 400 people expected to attend each of the five days.

The sprint is one of a series of Geovation Challenge activities being run by Ordnance Survey as part of its commitment to innovation and will be looking to help start-ups, individuals, smaller businesses, corporations, public and third sector organisations develop ideas to be presented at the end of the week.

The best of these will be considered for future development, or placed straight into Geovation’s Accelerator Programme or other channels to develop, launch and scale their ideas as new ventures.

Supporting the sprint will be an experienced, multidisciplinary team of developers, location information, sustainability, and utility experts drawn from Ordnance Survey, Northumbrian Water, public, private and third sector organisations facilitated by a crack team of creative and innovative service designers from the service design agency Nonon.

Dr Chris Parker, from Ordnance Survey, said: “The sprint will take participants through principles and problems, idea development, business model development, rapid prototyping, how to develop and give lightening “elevator” pitches to win support for further development of their ventures in an intense but fun-filled environment.

“The NWG Innovation Festival is a fantastic fit for our Geovation Challenges and it is great to be able to draw people together in such a creative environment, to help find practical and deliverable ways to develop greener communities.”

‘How Green is Your City?’: What can businesses do to improve the environment in the North East? will start on the Monday, when the gathered delegates will scope the nature of the problem, and work through the week to develop key ideas that will be subjected to scrutiny from members of the public. At the end of the week, the sprint’s findings will be presented to a gathering of industry experts and regulators.

The Innovation Festival is supported by headline sponsors IBM, Microsoft, Reece Innovation, CGI, Ordnance Survey and BT, who will be leading the search for answers to other big social and environmental questions.

Nigel Watson, Northumbrian Water Group Information Services Director, said: “Creating a better environment is a huge part of what drives Northumbrian Water’s work, so this is a very important sprint, which we hope will bring about some real benefits for communities in the future.

“It’s great that we have Ordnance Survey as our headline sponsor on this sprint, as it means the results will feed into their broader Geovation Challenge programme making the benefits of the innovation spread further.”

The work to tackle six key problems will take place in a true festival environment that will also feature live comedy and music, as well as inspirational talks.

The big questions under consideration during the week are:

• ‘Rain, Hail or Shine’: How can we reduce flooding? Led by headline sponsor IBM

• ‘Keep It Flowing’: What do we know about leakage from water pipes and how can we fix it? Led by NWG and headline sponsor Microsoft, alongside a Microsoft-led Hackathon of data relating to leakage.

• ‘Preparing for the Future’: How do we upgrade our infrastructure for the 21st Century effectively and affordably? Led by headline sponsor Reece Innovation

• ‘Tomorrow’s World’: What will living and working look like in 2030? Led by headline sponsor CGI

• ‘How Green is Your City?’: What can businesses do to improve the environment in the North East? Led by headline sponsor Ordnance Survey

• ‘21st Century Reach’: How can we optimise a mobile workforce for a complex network business? Led by headline sponsor BT

The NWG Innovation Festival is also being delivered in association with Newcastle University, Durham University, Genesys, Interserve in partnership with Amec Foster Wheeler, Costain Resources, PC1, Tech Mahindra, Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB), Wipro, Virgin Media Business, Schneider, Wheatley Solutions, Sopra Steria, Accenture, 1Spatial, Infosys, Unify, ITPS, Esh-MWH, and Pen Test Partners.

Young people will be welcomed into the Festival with the opportunity for five lucky sixth formers to join each sprint group. There will also be a separate schools challenge, facilitated by Reece Innovation, to design the teenager’s bedroom of the future. Younger children will have the opportunity to join in the fun in a ‘mini maker fayre’, hosted by the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

People can find out more about what’s taking place at the NWG Innovation Festival, and how they can get involved at

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