For the third year running, CGI has invited us to design and co-facilitate their design sprint at the Northumbrian Water Group (NWG) Innovation Festival 2019. From July 8 – 12th, 2019 we’ll be exploring:

How might we enhance rural communities and the environment using emerging technologies?

Over the course of 5 days, and with over 100 participants, we’ll investigate how emerging technologies could be used to:

It’s a brilliant theme for a design sprint and one that we’re delighted to be collaborating on with our partner CGI. You can tell it’s a great topic because we’ve got a full tent and a wonderful line-up of experts throughout the week. So many thanks to all the event organisers and apologies to anyone who hasn’t been able to secure a place.

Previous successes

We’ve been lucky enough to participate in both the 2017 and 2018 Innovation Festivals. And it’s clear that each year the outputs get better and better.

This year, the outputs from previous years sprints will be demo’d at an innovation showcase on Wednesday night. This will feature 4 ideas that have come out of the CGI tent over the past 2 years.

We can’t wait to see how last year’s output, Project Barnacle, has developed. It’s currently being tested in customer’s homes.o to see the data it aggregates as well as the product itself is going to be incredibly exciting.

In addition to Barnacle, the showcase will also feature:

You can learn more about past year’s successes on the Innovation Festival website.

What people are saying about the design sprint?

As a water company, it’s really important to us that we support rural businesses, because they can help deliver benefits to both the water and wider environment, aims which are at the heart of our business plan. We’re very excited about this year’s Innovation Festival and the opportunity to work creatively with a diverse group of people to focus on how we can bring innovation into rural communities. Our aim for the end of the week is to have the basis for a technological innovation that will make a real difference to all of our rural customers.

Clare Deasy, Catchment Approach Coordinator at Northumbrian Water

Clare Deasy, Catchment Approach Coordinator at Northumbrian Water

After the great success of last year’s Project Barnacle, we are very excited to be leading another sprint at the NWG Innovation Festival. Rural communities often benefit from new technology innovations much later than urban communities. However, the opportunity that emerging technologies can bring to our rural communities and the environment is huge. The ‘Enabling the Rural Revolution’ Sprint will bring together subject matter experts from a variety of sectors including water, academia, local authority, emerging technologies and more. CGI’s expertise in emerging technologies promises to push the boundaries of what we can expect from the Innovation Festival this year.

Paul Buxton, VP for Utilities and the North, CGI

Paul Buxton, VP for Utilities and the North, CGI

About the NWG Innovation Festival


The NWG Innovation Festival 2019 is all about bringing people together to solve big problems. Companies, innovation experts, universities, schools and the public apply design thinking to explore innovative ways to help change the world.

This year’s Innovation Festival 2019 will bring over 3,000 people together to work on challenging design sprints and hackathons facilitated by companies such as CGI, IBM, Ford and O2.

Follow the festival

Can’t attend? Unfortunately, registration is now closed. But you can follow us, the festival or our sprint via:

You can also catch the best bits of the festival on LOCAL TV (Freeview Channel 7). And like last year we’ll be sure to share a post-sprint round-up post when we’re back and fully recovered!

In the meantime, should you wish to learn more about the Innovation Festival 2019CGI or the ‘enabling the rural revolution’ design sprint and user experience design consultancy services, please feel free to contact us.

Esther Stringer

Esther is our Managing Director and Research lead at Border Crossing UX.