The Water Hub launched a series of exciting challenges at our annual networking event RIPPLE. We are calling on our network of innovators to propose solutions to the National Trust to address their challenge of how they we use digital technologies to enhance existing engagement and attract new audiences to take an interest in rivers.  To see Richard Higg’s presentation from RIPPLE, download his presentation here.  A contract will be made, to the value of £1,500 for a scoping study to identify a range of ideas, with the potential for one to be taken through feasibility and concept to testing and demonstration in collaboration with the National Trust.

If you have an idea or existing solution, please download our Application Form here and send to [email protected] before Thursday 2nd May at 17:00.

The Challenge Holder
National Trust is a national a charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy.  More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything they do.

In partnership with the Environment Agency, the National Trust last year announced its most ambitious waterways restoration project in its history – Riverlands. Riverlands is a landscape scale programme working with a wide range of partners at several sites (off and on Trust land) across England and Wales. It is about delivering both environmental and social outcomes by working with the public – enabling greater access, inspiring action and connecting more people with the natural heritage. We would like to explore how we build on work already happening nationally and locally to help deepen and sustain public engagement with rivers. We also want to find ways of connecting with audiences which currently have no awareness or interest.

The Challenge
The health of our rivers are in decline yet the impact is often invisible – why should anyone care? It’s often only when you are directly impacted (eg. through flooding) that people see the relevance to them and think about the part they play in this. Behaviour change often comes through establishing empathy, with the situation and creating nudges to make it easier for people to care and make a difference.

As well as restoring nature, the Riverlands project is about helping communities (local to rivers as well as at a national level) enjoy their rivers more, not only as a home for wildlife but also as a space for health and wellbeing and as a cultural resource. Our ambition on the Riverlands programme is for:

  • More people to understand and be inspired by the role rivers play in their lives past, present and future.
  • More people to have the opportunity to make a difference to the long term care of rivers and catchments.

This challenge aims to identify and potentially trial how digital technologies can be used to inspire more people to care about rivers – how can we use digital technologies to enhance existing engagement and attract new audiences to take an interest in rivers?

What are we looking for?
Initially we are looking for a broad range of ideas on how we can use digital technologies to help with this challenge to give us an idea of what might be possible. We want to know what is currently available and how could we adopt or adapt these existing technologies to achieve our aims.

Applicants are asked to offer a range of ideas that they feel best meets our challenge and that include:

  • What existing technologies could we use (reference to existing technologies that could be adopted or adapted or are just comparators)?
  • What is scalable?
  • Which audiences these might work for?
  • What can be developed into a valuable test?
  • The benefits for both the intended audiences and also for Riverlands as a programme
  • Ball park costs for development and delivery

What we can offer
A contract worth £1,500 to the winning applicant for the feasibility stage to work with the National Trust on the chosen ideas, with potential for a longer term collaboration in the testing and development phases.

The Water Hub will provide all applications to National Trust after the deadline. National Trust will be responsible for reviewing applications and providing feedback to the applicants in a timely manner.


  • 21st March 2019 – Launch of challenge and call for applications
  • National Trust will provide an opportunity for interested applicants to learn more about the Riverlands project and explore this challenge in greater detail (date and details TBC)
  • 2nd May 2019 – Deadline for applications to The Water Hub.
  • The Water Hub will collate all applications and send to National Trust within 2 days of the deadline.

For more information, get in touch at [email protected]

*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.