Innovation Festival to enable the "rural revolution"

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A North East water company wants to harness the power of emerging technologies to enhance rural communities and the environment.

Northumbrian Water and global IT and business consulting firm, CGI, are coming together once again at the water company’s Innovation Festival this summer, to explore how they can bring about the “rural revolution” using emerging technologies.

In the United Kingdom over 12 million people live in areas defined as rural where, compared to urban environments, the population is spread over a wider and sparser area. The differences don’t stop there. With contrasting age demographics, access to public and private transport, and local services such as healthcare, this means there is great opportunity to revolutionise living and working in rural communities with emerging technologies.

Rural communities also play a key role in protecting the natural environment which Northumbrian Water relies on to provide clean drinking water for its 2.7 million customers across the North East. Moreover, the water company works closely with the agricultural sector to help manage land, offering support and advice to farmers about how they can reduce pollution and protect water quality, as well as working with a number of environmental partners.

During the five-day Sprint at the Innovation Festival in July, Northumbrian Water and CGI will look at ways that emerging technologies could build better-connected communities, protect the environment and provide better access to services.

Clare Deasy, Catchment Approach Coordinator at Northumbrian Water, said: “As a water company, it’s really important to us that we support rural businesses, because they can help deliver benefits to both the water and wider environment, aims which are at the heart of our business plan.

“We’re very excited about this year’s Innovation Festival and the opportunity to work creatively with a diverse group of people to focus on how we can bring innovation into rural communities.”

“Our aim for the end of the week is to have the basis for a technological innovation that will make a real difference to all of our rural customers.”

CGI’s Paul Buxton, VP for Utilities and the North said: “After the great success of last year’s Project Barnacle, we are very excited to be leading another sprint at the NWG Innovation Festival. Rural communities often benefit from new technology innovations much later than urban communities. However, the opportunity that emerging technologies can bring to our rural communities and the environment is huge.

“The ‘Enabling the Rural Revolution’ Sprint will bring together subject matter experts from a variety of sectors including water, academia, local authority, emerging technologies and more. CGI’s expertise in emerging technologies promises to push the boundaries of what we can expect from the Innovation Festival this year.”

The Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival 2019 takes place at Newcastle Racecourse between 8 to 12 July.

More than 3,000 people from around the world, including industry experts, engineers, students and customers, are expected at the festival, where they will search for solutions to major societal and environmental challenges.

Sign up to CGI’s Sprint directly by visiting, or to find out more about the festival and the other exciting sprints that will be taking place, visit

About CGI

Founded in 1976, CGI is among the largest independent IT and business consulting services firms in the world. With approximately 77,000 consultants and professionals across the globe, CGI delivers an end-to-end portfolio of capabilities, from IT and business consulting to systems integration, outsourcing services and intellectual property solutions. CGI works with clients through a local relationship model complemented by a global delivery network that helps clients digitally transform their organizations and accelerate results. With Fiscal 2018 reported revenue of C$11.5 billion, CGI shares are listed on the TSX (GIB.A) and the NYSE (GIB). Learn more at

Janine Rillands