Essex and Suffolk Water, a water supply company in the UK have been flirting with open innovation in a major way. On 18 September it held its first ever Day of Innovation to address major social and environmental challenges.
Approximately 250 people took part, including scientists, engineers, designers, customers and representatives of global businesses.
During the event 13 ‘sprint sessions’ took place each one tasked with addressing a particular challenge. Everyone was free to ask questions, come up with their own ideas and build on the ideas of others. In addition to discussions, there were workshops, interactive presentations and technical demonstrations.
Among the ideas showcased and discussed were wellbeing apps, travel assistance for the visually impaired and ways that people can save money as they save water.
One team from one of the sprint events went out into a local town and spoke to 40 businesses asking them to become refills stations. This is a national campaign in the UK that is persuading people to fill up reusable bottles instead of purchasing single-use ones.
And either to stimulate creative juices or to give people a break or both, event organizers provided a number of activities. There were yoga sessions, mindfulness sessions, a quiz and even a silent disco.
Organizer Nigel Watson said: “It’s been a really fantastic day and a wonderful celebration of innovation and creativity.
“Of course the journey doesn’t end here, and we look forward to seeing these ideas develop further and start making real changes to our everyday lives.”