Challenge: Design of our Tyne

This Challenge has now closed. For more information on the event please follow this link.

The Water Hub launched a series of exciting challenges at our annual networking event RIPPLE. We called on our network of innovators to propose solutions to The Tyne Estuary Steering Group / Environment Agency (EA) to address their challenge of “Design of our Tyne”. To see Rob Carr’s presentation from RIPPLE, download his presentation here.  The Tyne Estuary Steering group has a vision for transforming the Newcastle Quayside into a green hub connecting communities and businesses with nature. As part of this vision, the EA sought inspiration to visualise what this green space could look like.

The Challenge Holder 
The Tyne Estuary Steering Group is led by Groundwork NE and Cumbria and is made up of stakeholders including Local Authorities, Rivers and wildlife Trusts, NE1 the Business Improvement District company, Newcastle and Gateshead Initiative, The Environment Agency, Natural England and Northumbrian Water.  Read more about the TEP here. The Environment Agency is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), with responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development and one of The Water Hub’s strategic partners.

The Challenge
The Tyne Estuary Steering Group are looking for ideas on how to address their challenge of transforming the Newcastle Quayside into a green hub.  NE1’s business proposal for 2019-2024  says, “Newcastle’s Quayside and its bridges deliver iconic views that are instantly recognisable... but there is a strong desire for more to be made of this asset, including the river itself”. NE1 has taken inspiration from Copenhagen, Melbourne and New York’s ‘High Line’, in demonstrating the commercial gains of this approach and viewing this area as a 1km linear park. They hope to redevelop the Quayside to increase footfall, encourage additional businesses to invest and finally, create a more appealing physical environment that encourages diverse uses, utilising both the quay and the river. Over the next five years, NE1 will make “greening” an essential element of their projects, looking at permanent and temporary landscape interventions and multi-dimensional projects which explore how buildings, their walls and rooftops can add to the city’s biodiversity.
Building on this vision, the Tyne Estuary Partnership would like to:

1. Seek inspiration on what this green space could look like
2. Connect communities with business and nature
3. Bring to life existing drawings with a 3D visualisation*

*this is left open to interpretation and can involve which ever 3D media you choose to best represent your vision.

An award of £2000 will be made to the winning solution, which best meets each of the three criteria above. This is a competitive process. Your application will be judged solely on the information you provide in the application form and any associated attachments (which can include 3D illustrations, photographs, links to videos, immersive technologies, and/or other creative ideas which support your application).

The Water Hub will provide all applications to Rob Carr at Environment Agency after the deadline. The Tyne Estuary Partnership/ EA will be responsible for reviewing applications and providing feedback to the applicants in a timely manner.

• 21 March 2019 – Launch of challenge and call for applications
• 10 May 2019 - Deadline for applications to The Water Hub.
• 13 May - The Water Hub will collate all applications and send to The TEP / EA.
• 14 May - 3 June - The TEP/ EA will review all applications.
• 7 June - The TEP / EA will provide feedback to The Water Hub on which applicant(s) has/have been successful in the review.
• 14 June - The Water Hub will pass on this feedback to the applicants.
• 30 June - The TEP/ EA will award funding to successful applicant(s) by end of June.

Challenge Outcome

After impressing at the application stage, Fairhurst and SEL Environmental Ltd were invited to present their 3D visualisations for a greener Tyne Estuary at the Environment Agency's Tyneside House.

Reflecting on the day, Lisa Stephenson, Business Development Manager at Groundwork NE and Cumbria said, 'Both presentations were really interesting and very different in their approach. They can definately bring new things to the Partnership. Fairhurst were really strong on the policy, masterplanning and the overview side of the project, and SEL Environmental brought new technologies that we would have never considered before. These are exciting times ahead with the potential of working with both companies moving forward.' 

Stephen Patterson, Director of Communications at Newcastle NE1 BID said, 'Both shortlisted submissions were absolutley fantastic showing the scale of opportunities but also the challenges presented. Both teams brought ideas that we had not encountered before'.

The Water Hub: RIPPLE - Thursday 21 March 2019

The Water Hub: Ripple 2019

“Creating ideas, opportunities and impact”

When: Thursday 21 March 2019, 09:00 – 16:00

Where: Life Science Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP

Our first annual network event is for businesses, creative thinkers, and practitioners; for those who want to create an impact in the water and environment sector and share our ambition for putting the North East at the heart of the global market in water technology innovation. The day will provide industry and government insight, cutting-edge innovation, real life examples, and inspiring talks from those influencing the sector in the North East and beyond. We will be announcing a full programme including keynote speakers, panellists, pitchers and exhibitors on 25t February 2019.

See our full webpage here!

To register to attend this FREE event, please sign up on Eventbrite.

We want to showcase innovative businesses and exciting opportunities at RIPPLE 2019, and to do this we need your help!

Please note that data submitted in the supporting application form will be reviewed by The Water Hub, and will be handled and stored in accordance with GDPR guidelines. The applicant can withdraw their application and/or ask for their information to be updated or removed at any point. This is a competitive process and applicants will be chosen based on their fit with The Water Hub and whether the problem or product they present provides opportunities for open innovation, collaboration and business growth.

Horden is Hotting Up! Postponed until further notice

The Opportunity
Come and explore with us how we could use the heat and energy from the mine water treatment plant at Horden Colliery, East Durham.

This heated water has many potential uses as an energy source, for example in heat networks, or in horticulture. If harnessed, the mines could once again deliver huge benefits to the local area. There are businesses in the region and beyond with ideas and technologies that could support this transformation – we want you to be part of the solution!

Who should attend
The event is designed to showcase the opportunities of heat and energy recovery from mine water at Horden and provide an opportunity for discussion. Our intention is to build a network of people and organisations with an interest in converting the opportunities at Horden into action and to leverage against current offers of investment at the site to accelerate change.

The event will be informal, participative, and orientated to the needs and ideas of the businesses and communities who attend. There are no right or wrong solutions, and there is no intention to act on behalf of partners, businesses or communities, rather to support and facilitate action.

Overview of the day
We willl be running a morning and afternoon session where you can visit the Horden site and discuss the opportunities and route to action. There will be two consecutive sessions, split in the middle of the day by lunch, as follows:
1. Site visit to Horden and Dawdon to provide an overview of the site, wider infrastructure and location
2. Market stall event to provide insight into some of the opportunities identified for the site.
3. Facilitated discussion to understand attendees interest in the site and their thoughts on the best purpose for development, captured for future use

Get involved
Attendance is free.  Details will follow shortly.
There are a limited number of spaces for exhibits. If you are interested, please contact [email protected] for more details.

Follingsby MAX: Pitch your Product February 2019

To read about how this opportunity unfolded, download this flyer here.

The Water Hub has an exciting opportunity for businesses to pitch their products and services to the developer of “Follingsby MAX”.  We are looking to showcase some of your brilliant solutions in a one-day closed pitching session.  This is a competitive process. We will shortlist up to eight applicants to give a closed pitch to a panel of stakeholders in February 2019.  If you have a solution to one of the challenges below, please download our Application Form here and send to [email protected].

The Site
Follingsby MAX is just three miles from the A1(M).  The developers, Highgrove Group, are looking for ideas and solutions to effectively manage water at the site.  The site will accommodate a regional or national distribution centre, and planning consents have been agreed for up to 2.5 million ft2.  The site includes a 30 acre green infrastructure zone where over a kilometre of river was naturalised using specialist restoration techniques.  This GI zone is designed to manage run off from site and provide an ecologically sound habitat for protected species.  Directly adjacent to this, will be 62 acres of hard-standing, 2-3 warehouses with ~1000 employees, and a fleet of HGVs and delivery vehicles.  Masterplan options, virtual tours, and a live camera feed can be viewed online.  The risk of leaks and flooding (within the building), pollution incidents (into the river and GI zone), and surface water run-off must be managed to avoid penalty.

The Challenge
The Water Hub is looking for novel technologies that can be applied at scale to:
1. Improve hard-standing water management
2. Reduce water-related risk (e.g. leakage, bursts, supply disruptions, flooding)
3. Reduce or prevent pollution incidents (e.g. from spills, leaks, waste)
4. Improve building-level water efficiency (e.g. to reduce water bills)
5. Encourage water re-use.

This call is for ‘at market’ products and services only.  Applicants must be able to provide evidence of testing and approved documentation of their products.  We cannot accept ‘proof-of-concept’ ideas in this instance.

Following the pitch session, Highgrove Group may choose to explore the possibility of incorporating solutions into the development.  This is a competitive process and Highgrove Group are not obliged to take anything forward.


  • 17 December 2018 - Call for applications
  • 11 February 2019 - Deadline for applications.  Applicants will be notified if they’ve been: (1) shortlisted to pitch their idea, (2) recommended for further support from The Water Hub to develop their idea, or (3) unsuccessful at this time
  • 26 February 2019 - Shortlisted candidates to present ideas at Follingsby MAX (NE10 8YA).  The panel will include representatives from Highgrove Group, BWB Consulting, GMI Construction, The Environment Agency and Gateshead Council.  For more information, get in touch at [email protected]

After reviewing lots of fantastic applications, The Water Hub put forward EIGHT businesses to pitch to the panel of the site's stakeholders. They pitched a range of solutions to improve hard-standing water management, reduce water related risk, prevent pollution incidents and improve water efficiency.

Reflecting on the day, Dave Price, Operations Director at Highgrove, said:
"We've seen some really good, and very innovative products which I think can work on this scheme, but also on other sites that we're working on. I think it will
be a big benefit to us, as developers, in the future.

The Water Hub provided feedback from the panel to each of the businesses who pitched. The developer is following up with further discussions with four of the eight businesses. To read more about the day, download this flyer here.

*Please note that data submitted in the supporting application form will be reviewed by The Water Hub, and will be handled and stored in accordance with GDPR guidelines.  The applicant can withdraw their application and/or ask for their information to be updated or removed at any point.

'Water Dragons' Heat 2018 – October 2018

'Water Dragons' Heat 2018 – October 2018

We hosted the Future Water Association's Water Dragons Heat at Durham University, on Wednesday 10th October 2018.  Keynote speakers for the day were Steph Hurry - Waterwise, Richard Whale - Atkins, Chris Jones - Northumbrian Water and Clair Cooper - Durham University.

We had eight fantastic businesses pitching their innovations for the Water industry, 4 of which focused on saving water including low-flow showers, gravity-fed rainwater harvesting, a water swelling liner to capture and slowly release water in hanging baskets and a way to flush sewers without wasting potable water.

We also featured the opportunity for businesses to trial their proof of concepts which included water dispersable wipes, IoT-enabled rainwater management, software to optimise wastewater dosing and a method to repair leaking pipes.

After careful deliberation the judges deemed their winner as Reece Innovation.  The audience also had the opportunity to vote for their best product and they voted for Raindrop Harvest!  Both businesses will be invited to the Future Water Association's final in 2019.

The winners of the Proof of Concept competition were awarded to Twipes for their truly flushable wipe and Over the Air Analytics for their smart water management system.

Find out more at Future Water Association

NWG Innovation Festival: 9th – 13th July 2018

NWG Innovation Festival: 9th – 13th July 2018

NWG Innovation Festival – what’s in store for 2019 Year of Green Action?
Last week, Northumbrian Water held their 2nd Innovation Festival where businesses, practitioners, regulators, academics and customers explored 13 Grand Challenges that we currently face in the water environment. Northumbrian Water created the perfect environment for open innovation and collaboration and 100’s of creative and inspired ideas were born.

What we did......

The Water Hub ran a 3 day sprint: 2019 Year of Green Action - what nature can do for you and your business?

We all want to leave the environment in a better state than we found it and we know that small and medium businesses need to be part of the solution if we are to grow a sustainable northeast economy. This is what we unpacked over the three days with a wonderful group of open, passionate and creative people.

We explored the challenge with keynotes from Oliver Harmer (above) - Environment Agency, Claire Thompson - North East England Nature Partnership and our very own Louise Bracken. We were inspired with Flash Talks from Lydia Allen - National Youth Agency, Graham Thrower - Urban Foresight, Leon Baruah - Viridian Logic, Tom Sinclare - Daykin and Storey, Paul Black - Capability North East, Tony Gates - Northumberland National Park, Martha Silcott - Fab Little Bag, Lorna Davis - SuDSPlanter and Adrian Cantle-Jones - Durham County Council. Check out Martha’s poem and Louise and Lorna’s Festival keynote on our YouTube page.

We had a couple of unexpected guests join us in our Sprint, BBC Breakfast's - Steph McGovern and Claire Moriarty - DEFRA's Permanent Secretary, who came to see how we plan to operationalise the government's 25-year plan for the environment in the North East of England.

So what did we come up with?

Green Partners - Achieving multiple benefits through partnership working. This team identified the principle barrier as knowing who is doing what, where, when and what the opportunities are to work together. Out of their thinking, the Green Partners app was born.







Green Procurement - creating a competitive advantage for sustainable businesses, products and services. This team set an ambitious long-term goal: in 25 years only sustainable businesses would exist. They identifying the overriding factor in most procurement systems was cost and set a course to redress that balance by creating a procurement system where sustainable businesses have a competitive advantage.




Roots - co-creating places and communities by giving colour ans soul to our un-loved green spaces. This team set a goal for the co-creation of green spaces – matching unloved green spaces with people and communities, and developed an app to facilitate this match-making.






Eco Angels of the North - an augmented reality game which partners with Eco-businesses engage children in environmentally responsible behaviours. This team set a goal that environmentally responsible behaviour is our everyday norm, and focused on engaging young people in the conversation. Their augmented reality game used gamification, quizzes, incentives and rewards to educate and encourage environmentally responsible behaviour.





Watch this space.....
Our goal at The Water Hub was to use the Innovation Festival to spark ideas for how we can celebrate 2019 the Year of Green Action in the North East. We will be taking forward some of these concepts and others emerging from the embers in the coming weeks. Watch this space for more information!

Engaging customers with saving water

Engaging customers with saving water

With water efficiency in the national news, The Water Hub invited some fantastic speakers from Waterwise, Northumbrian Water and an award-winning small business (FabLittleBag), to discuss how to engage customers with saving water, and talk about why we need consistent messaging across the UK.

Our audience brought perspectives from academia, business and the public sector, leading to a fascinating conversation on what the future might bring, and how much more innovation we can expect to see in behaviour, technology and policy associated with water use.

We hope the event sparked ideas for businesses to submit to our Water Dragons heat in October.

Watch the highlights from the discussion on YouTube here.

Durham University and Northumbrian Water sign partnership to tackle water challenges

Durham University and Northumbrian Water sign partnership to tackle water challenges

Durham University and Northumbrian Water have joined together, to help tackle water-related challenges and opportunities affecting society and the environment.

They have signed an agreement that will see them share research and development expertise in areas such as catchment management, risk and resilience, stakeholder engagement, innovation, data science and energy.

The five-year partnership will also support economic growth in North East England, particularly by providing support to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) formalising The Water Hub’s on-going partnership between Durham University and Northumbrian Water.

Read the original article here.

Photo credit: Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, and Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive Officer, Northumbrian Water, signing the Memorandum of Understanding agreement.

Credit: Victoria Greener/Durham University.

NE Satellite Catapult Conference

NE Satellite Catapult Conference – Ramside Hotel, Durham

Professor Louise Bracken was invited along to the NE Satellite Catapult Conference to introduce The Water Hub to SMEs within the data-led satellite applications industry. The purpose of this event was to help SMEs identify and develop innovative solutions to address societal challenges around water and the environment with the key attribute being to creating new collaborative partnerships to develop and land ideas in the water and environmental sectors.

We met a number of fascinating SMEs which we hope to develop strong relationships with in the near future.

The Environment Agency Market Stall Event

The Environment Agency Market Stall Event – Great North Museum, Hancock, Newcastle

The event was designed to showcase the work taking place across the North East to improve the environment and protect people and place.

The Water Hub was invited to this event where our Market Stall focussed on Blue/Green infrastructure and Nature Based solutions. Some great opportunities were realised at this event.