Water giants aim to bring the greatest minds together for East Anglian innovation event

PUBLISHED: 17:07 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:14 16 July 2019

Meter exchanger James Wood changing the old water meters for new smart meters on West Mersea near Colchester in Essex  Picture:

Meter exchanger James Wood changing the old water meters for new smart meters on West Mersea near Colchester in Essex Picture:


In an industry first, Anglian Water and Essex & Suffolk Water have come together to organise an event aimed at developing solutions to some of the key challenges facing society.

Engineers at Anglian Water Picture: Tim GeorgeEngineers at Anglian Water Picture: Tim George

Some of the most creative and progressive minds from across the globe are set to descend on East Anglia to take part in one of the biggest innovation events the region has seen.

The three-day event, called Innovate East, is being organised by two of the country's leading water companies - Anglian Water and Essex & Suffolk Water - who hope to create a unique and exciting environment where attendees will be encouraged to unlock new ways of thinking.

The aim of the event, which is due to be held at Trinity Park Showground in Ipswich between September 10 and 12 2019, is to address some of the major challenges that water companies and other large organisations are facing, such as water scarcity, climate change, protecting the environment and delivering for customers.

READ MORE: Lincolnshire floods help East Anglian team prepare for emergencies back home

Anglian Water workers Picture: Anglian WaterAnglian Water workers Picture: Anglian Water

Sprints and hackathons

Attendees will include utility experts, academics, engineers, scientists, commercial businesses, students and customers, who will be asked to work together to develop solutions through a series of fast-paced 'sprints' and 'hackathons'.

Sprints allow for a solution to be created and tested in the space of a few days, short-cutting lengthy learning processes while hackathons utilise the skills of computing experts to collaborate on a software project, with the aim of creating a functioning product by the third day.

Chief executive of Essex & Suffolk Water Heidi Mottram, said collaboration is critical to delivering innovative ideas.

She added: "I'm really looking forward to welcoming people from around the globe to Innovate East, bringing some of the world's leading innovative minds together to develop collective solutions for the benefit of our customers now and many years into the future.

"Great ideas come when you bring people of all different backgrounds together to take a fresh look at some long-standing challenges."

(L to R) Peter Simpson, chief executive, Anglian Water Group and Heidi Mottram, chief executive, Northumbrian Water Group.(L to R) Peter Simpson, chief executive, Anglian Water Group and Heidi Mottram, chief executive, Northumbrian Water Group.

Game changers

Both Essex & Suffolk Water and Anglian Water are members of the 'Leading Utilities of the World' group, which represents the world's most forward-thinking water and wastewater companies and recognises how they are leading the way for innovation in the water industry. They are hoping that Innovate East will bring global thinking to the region to complement the breakthrough work that is already being achieved.

Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglian Water said he hoped the big ideas generated through Innovate East would be "game changers".

He said: "We live in a volatile and uncertain environment where change is constant. This, of course, brings challenges but also tremendous opportunity. To prosper we must work more closely together than ever, unlocking greater levels of innovation and collectively finding solutions to national and global problems.

"We're excited about working with everyone involved and unlocking ideas which will make a real difference to our customers, our environment and to wider society as a whole."

Anglian Water borehole drilling  Picture: 

Matthew Power PhotographyAnglian Water borehole drilling Picture: Matthew Power Photography

As well as the series of sprints and hackathons, a number of complementary activities are also planned at Innovate East, including a live climate change-based STEM challenge involving 60 pupils, live streamed to another 600 pupils around the region.

More announcements on Innovate East will be made over the coming weeks. You can register your interest in the event and find out more at

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