Addressing Flooding Issues through Open Innovation

Published Jun-25-17

Breakthrough:
Rain gardens for homes and business premises to help mitigate the effects of flooding in Glasgow.

Company:
Glasgow City Council/Innovate UK/Climate-KIC, United Kingdom

The Story:

Addressing Flooding Issues through Open Innovation Glasgow, the biggest city in Scotland is at high risk of severe flooding events. Extreme rainfall, tidal rivers, aging sewers and the fact that much of it sits on a floodplain are the leading contributory factors. Solutions are needed fast to help reduce the risk, mitigate the impact of excessive water and help people protect their homes and businesses from predicted future weather events. Climate-related challenges are expected to become more severe in the near future.

To come up with the answers and to find new ways of tackling the problems, the city council decided to cast its net wide and sought the input of a diverse group of smarts. Entrepreneurs, start-ups, established companies, non-profits and more were all invited to take part in the Glasgow Resilience Innovation Challenge to share their creativity, talents, experience and knowledge.

The importance of turning to external sources of knowledge was highlighted by one of the challenge's sponsors, Climate-KIC, a public-private innovation partnership that focuses on climate change: "Where appropriate, we will integrate adaptation innovation challenges into our existing calls for proposals and funding portfolio, building on our knowledge and partner base." These types of challenges are superb vehicles for galvanizing thinking.

This open innovation initiative issued two challenges:

One: solutions that could be retrofitted to homes and commercial properties to help reduce the flood risk.

Two: novel ways to engage stakeholders and communities to act to address Glasgow’s climate resilience and environmental challenges.

Submissions were assessed against the technical requirements and desired outcomes, and finalists were invited to pitch their ideas in person at a finals day.

Open Innovation Winners

The winner of the first challenge was SUDBOX (Sustainable Urban Drainage System box), a domestic rainwater management solution. These are layered boxes that consist of a planter, a void space underneath and diverter pipes. They are rain gardens that slow down the runoff from storm water and can be retrofitted to down pipes on homes and commercial premises. They also filter out pollutants from roof water.

The winner of the second challenge was River Change, a bamboo and fabric art installation that communicates how climate change impacts the water cycle. Visitors walk through the work of art to experience a river before and during climate change, experiencing water levels and different rainfall intensities with and without adaptation solutions. There are also take-home messages to help people adopt climate favorable behaviors.

Next Steps and Benefits

The winners of each challenge received awards of £20,000 (approx. USD $25,000) to further develop their innovations. Other benefits, which extended to all those who took part in the open innovation challenges included opportunities to showcase their ideas, research and innovations to a large audience that included funding agencies.

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