Sydney Water’s Innovation Festival

Co-creating a safe environment to enhance innovation culture and foster ideas.

Sydney Water’s Innovation Festival connected customers, community, academia, government, industry partners and key stakeholders in an interactive in-person and online environment. The Innovation Festival encouraged the water industry together with Sydney Water’s partners to step outside of comfort zones and approach key challenges and generate new ideas in a creative and innovative way. 

Northumbrian Water Group (NWG) in the UK has hosted successful Innovation Festivals since 2017. Facilitated by Isle Utilities, NWG approached Sydney Water to partner with them and host a twin festival for 2021 and 2022. 

The motivation for the Innovation Festival was to encourage a culture of innovation to create a better life with world class water services. Sydney Water wanted to empower people and partners to move beyond their ‘day jobs’ and take the opportunity to work with different people in different ways.

Six key themes for collaboration between partners, stakeholders and the community.

The Innovation Festival explored six key themes, namely customer experience, smart cities, water security, liveability, diversity and inclusion and the circular economy. This was achieved through a combination of Design and Data Sprints, Tech Tanks. The Festival was publicly accessible with the main events. These included; 

  • Keynote speeches 
  • Panel sessions with board members, CEOs and Indigenous representatives
  • ‘The Splashes’ Debate – who is better at innovation, Australia or the UK?
  • Tech Tank pitches with prizes
  • Fun entertainment breaks between sessions.

The primary goal of the Innovation Festival was to encourage collaboration between partners, stakeholders and the community, in Sydney, Australia and internationally. By partnering with NWG and Isle Utilities, this was ultimately achieved as the festival attracted a global audience from 25 different countries. Many of the TechTank pitches were delivered from overseas, with start-up companies dialing in from the early hours of the morning. We were also pleased to have more than 20 sponsors on board for each event, who provided much appreciated support.