May 19, 2020 @ 10:18 by Alison Cowie
In response to the challenges faced by the coronavirus pandemic, Northumbrian Water will host its entire Innovation Festival online.
Social distancing restrictions meant that it would no longer be possible to hold this year’s event at Newcastle Racecourse and so the festival – which had been planned for July and was due to see more than 3000 people from all across the world gather – was forced to be postponed.
The Northumbrian Water innovation team has since drawn up plans to hold the four-day event online and in a digital capacity, which will take place September 14 to 17.
Festival attendees will still be able to take part in design sprints, data hacks and daily dashes and work together to solve real-world issues.
They’ll also be able to experience lightning talks, networking events, Q&A sessions and tech demos through live streams and catch-ups.
Organisers maintain the feel-good festival spirit will still be present and created virtually with wellbeing sessions, group exercise classes, pub quizzes, bingo, comedy, live music, celebrity appearances all taking place at the touch of a button.
Festival organiser and Northumbrian Water’s IS director, Nigel Watson, said: “COVID-19 has completely changed peoples’ lives and caused businesses and organisations across the globe to rethink how they do things. And that’s what we’ve done here.
“This is us adapting, flexing and being innovative with our innovation festival. We’ve changed it, improved it and we’re making it work for people, right now.
“Our partners, sponsors and our customers all told us that they wanted it to go ahead and so, taking inspiration from concerts and other large events, we’ve made the choice to switch the whole event to digital.
“It means that people from all across the globe can get involved in the festival in a safe and accessible way. It opens up lots of brand new opportunities for us both in terms of the way we work and what we can look to achieve.
“The whole world is facing huge challenges right now and it’s more important than ever that we come together to find new ways of working, new solutions, to solve these problems and build back better. Hopefully Innovation Festival 2020 can help with this and I’m really excited to see what happens”.