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What is it about?


What is it about?


Northumbrian Water (NWG) provides water and waste water management services in North and South of England, and has operations in Scotland.  The organisation and its people aim to deliver value to all stakeholders by being a leading performer in the industry.  

NWG is firmly rooted within the communities it serves. This understanding of, and commitment to, those communities is demonstrated in their leadership in initiatives such as ′Water for Health′, affordable housing and in our approach to corporate responsibility.

Northumbrian Water seek to celebrate all aspects of innovation within the Water Utilities sphere.  NWG continuously strives for innovative and better ways to deliver their business. 

The event anticipates 300 visitors a day from communities served, supply chain, business communities and institutions across the UK and beyond.


The festival is being held at Newcastle Racecourse in Gosforth in the North East UK.   It is in part a celebration of the diverse innovation initiatives delivered across the organisation; but also it represents an opportunity for Northumbrian Water to engage diverse audiences in 'hard and complex problems', such as reducing carbon footprint, leakage and flooding.


+ADD wins the GEM Partnerships 'most influence on innovation culture' award 2016

+ADD wins the GEM Partnerships 'most influence on innovation culture' award 2016

+ADD Strategy has been working closely with Northumbrian Water for over 2 years and has had the privilege of delivering agile and design led innovation initiatives complementing the organisations ambitions.

We have worked to support culture change, energy efficiency, systems transformation, billing and customer insight, marketing and customer acquisition, and hard technical problem solving ...such as predicting pollution incidents and mapping un-mappable drains.  

Our team has even worked to create new propositions such as energy management and reporting tools for local authorities.

At the Festival, the +ADD team are facilitating exploration of a 'hard problem'.  Leakage represents a loss of 20% of all water produced in the UK. 

This part of the Festival is sponsored by IBM and is called 'Keep it Flowing'. 

Northumbrian Water spend over £5.5million every year on leakage at NWG £3 million in the North, and £2.5 in the South.  We have been asked to create a focus on this area of challenge which effects the whole water utility industry.  

A lot of great work continues to be done on this problem.  Our aim is to bring a unique audience together to look at the problem from different perspectives.  Our work includes developing and hosting the design sprint, as well as supporting a hackathon which will work alongside the initiative.


Whats the programme


Whats the programme


please go to the event website to discover more about the event

you can also download a full agenda.

Exhibitions & Presentations

The event sees exhibits on Northumbrian Waters great successes in energy recovery, operational innovation and beyond.  There are a range of presentations from partners including Reece Group and IBM on innovation in utilities.

problem solving

Several innovation projects and design sprints are occuring throughout the week including topical activities focussing on 'hard problems' such as low carbon, flooding and leakage.  

entertainment & engagement

A real festival feel is being offered with afternoon tea, pop-up cinema, chill out zone, art wall, evening song, morning wake-up activities.  Evening entertainment including ive bands, an awards dinner and refreshments.

NWG Innovation Festival sponsors include Newcastle University, Genesys, Interserve, Costain Resources, PC1, Tech Mahindra, Mott McDonald, Wipro, Virgin Media Business, Schneider, Wheatley Solutions, Sopra Steria, Accenture, Infosys and 1Spatial.



The Design Challenge: About Leakage


The Design Challenge: About Leakage


THe DESIGN CHALLENGE:  keep it flowing

Water leakage is a large and ongoing problem for water companies with up to 21% of clean water lost through leakage - an unacceptable wastage.

Around 14.7 billion litres are produced per day with 3.1 billion litres lost (equal to 1,235 Olympic size pools worth lost each day, ref: ( 

Sponsors of the Leakage design challenge.

At Northumbrian Water Group, the problem of leakage is calculated to cost around £5.5 million each year.

A study in 2011 by UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research) showed that 13% leakage could be achieved by:

  • Quadrupling the current leak detection resources
  • A massive increase in pressure management
  • External metering of all properties
  • Continuing pipe renewals at current rates

However, this is longer term and has an impact on the economic cost model for producing clean water.  

MICROSOFT, the headline Festival sponsor are leading this Challenge.  Together we seek short to medium term solutions that with investment can achieve significant results in overcoming financial challenges of leakage detection and reduction.

What ARE our goalS?

Overall the aim of the design challange is to generate tangible improvements in performance targets in the short to medium term.

We are looking for inspiration and fresh thinking from within and outside the water industry to bring new ideas that will create impact and improvements to the overall leakage rates. The scale of this problem is significant, industrywide and international.  

We are looking for creative ways of spotting leaks: Where are the leaks now? Which part of the network? Where are they likely to appear next? We are looking for teams to develop analysis tools – aids to problem solving. 

What the design challange about:

1.     Prediction – tools and data to identify where leaks have happened and predicting where to repair and replace.

2.    Early identification – improving identification of hard to identify leaks, particularly small and evolving leaks.

3.    Making good decisions – creation of tools and systems to support decision making process around replacement versus repair

4.    Providing evidence – developing business cases for future solutions to be commissioned post-sprint

What we learned so far:

Extensive research has been carried out by UKWIR over recent years. CLICK HERE to see a recent article on leakage in the water utility sector.

What will happen after the challenge:

The output of the sprint will lead to a tangible financial difference and support for water companies in reducing their leakage. Business cases will be formed outside the hack based on opportunities generated during the hack. There may be funding for research from UK Water Industry Research group.

A longstanding problem:

Water companies have been developing solutions to this problem for many years although progress has plateaued.

Using traditional methods, leakage was massively reduced in the initial drive, but it has proven to be difficult to reduce below current levels without major additional costs to the customer.

The current solutions typically involve using the existing maintenance budget to fix problems as scheduled, prioritised by various factors including severity, location, volume, impact, etc.


Practical constraints and simple economics:

Currently not all customers are metered. Water companies therefore monitor leakage by measuring the inflow and outflow of district meterage areas (DMAs). This is tracked over time with increased usage in normal patterns across an overnight baseline being identified as leakage.

There is currently an economic threshold level reached, after which the customer is not happy at the additional costs required to reduce leakage further.


Data, processes and tools available:

Data is complex and hard to fathom using current norms. There are a lot of variables.

In addition, decision processes/ support tools tend to be topical (focussed on aspects of the problem), and not integrated.

In practical terms there are problems in identifying leakage prioritisation and supporting management decisions.  


The Design Sprint and Hackathon will interact with Data insight focus being influenced by the 'unpacking of the problem' taking place in the Sprint.

Given this the Hackathon will take place later on in the Festival week, starting on Wedesday and finishing on Thursday.


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The Sprint

The sprint, the hack

...or both?

The Sprint

The sprint, the hack

...or both?



The Design Sprint is considering broader processes, systems and tools that could be developed or integrated to provide new solutions.

Teams can collaborate with and call upon hackathon participants to support with data experimentation and evidence development.

Specific goals of the Design Sprint:

The objective is to co-create and prototype novel concepts and innovative solutions that potentially create short to medium term impacts on thechallenge.  The process will lead to formation of consortia and business case developments, defining opportunities ranging from R&D to POC (Proof of Concept) and design and deliver projects.  These will be evaluated on the final day of the sprint by a pane of NWG representatives.

Who should attend?

The design sprint is open to a wide audiance which will include orgnisations with relevant latent IP, know how, technologies, software, systems and tools that could form part of enhanced solutions. Given the potential commercial rewards, it is anticipated academics, institutions, supply chain and business communities will participate amongst others.

How do I register to participate?

Simply click on the button below to register your interest in participating.  If you need further information, please contact


The Hackathon

The Hackathon

THE  hackathon


The hackathon will compliment the design sprint.  While the Design Sprint is considering broader processes, systems and tools that could be developed or integrated to provide new solutions, the hackathon will focus on data relationships from a fresh perspective that could create new insights and drive solutions.

Specific goals of the hackathon:

Participants will form teams and develop improved methods and use of data focussing on early leak identification and prediction to support maintenance and replacement.  Areas of focus may include:

  • Targetting emerging leaks – moving cases from reactive to planned repair – based on prediction of leaks in a location. Monitoring and identifying (upward leakage) trend analysis and not waiting for customers to complain.
  • Making the repair process more efficient – Develop improvements in identification of leakage areas. Reductions in dry-hole exploration - improving the accuracy of identification and prediction of burst and leakage locations. Build a risk profile of the pipe network (age, position under road, soil types, pipe type, materials, etc).
  • Development of solutions to support decision making process – improved identification of when a replacement become more cost effective than a repair.

Who should attend?

This Hackathon will appeal to experts including Data Analysts and Scientists interested in the opportunity to work on real and current data, diverse datasets, open source data; and to explore potential alternative methods for data modelling and expression.

How do I get involved?

The Hackathon is open to individuals and teams.  Simply click the button below to learn more and register your interest in participating.