Thinking differently about water
The launch of the Innovation Forum kickstarting Aquatech Amsterdam and the wider Amsterdam International Water Week was a roaring success.
Built from the ground up to help people ‘Think differently about water’, an inspiring Roman-style ‘Forum’ area was designed to encourage a free-flowing discussion.
A Colosseum type arena housing nearly 250 delegates featured at the heart of the discussions, as well as ‘Fireside Chats’, an augmented reality demonstration, expert lunches and matchmaking helping to create and foster connections throughout the day.
Over 40 speakers, including 16 water utilities came together to discuss the tagline: ‘Mastering Water’s Digital Transformation’.
Rather than ‘Death by Powerpoint’, the Innovation Forum instead fostered two-way interaction, with the audience actively involved in the agenda, voting and communicating digitally, as well as physically voting and moving around the Colosseum.
Innovation Forum guests voted on topics such as the relationship between water utilities and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data.
Investment into digital across Europe
Julien Guerrier, director of the EU Commission, Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) gave a strong closing keynote signalling ambitions and investment in digital water projects, as part of ICT4Water.
Guerrier announced that €143 million would be invested between 2021-27 in more than 50 projects across Europe.
“Simple automated processes are turning into data driven systems…over seven years we want to invest in the digitalisation of the water sector,” he said.
Tom Freyberg, content director, Aquatech Global Events, added: “We really wanted to create something original with the Innovation Forum – a fresh alternative and antidote to ‘Conference fatigue’. We are thrilled with the result and would like to thank all of the speakers, moderators, partners, sponsors and team to make this happen.”
Will Sarni, founder and CEO of Water Foundry, added: “The Innovation Forum has spoilt me because it’s changed my expectations for other water events. It was the most human-centric, engaging event I’ve been to in my career.”
Prof Dragan Savić, chair of the IWA Digital Water Programme Steering Committee and CEO of KWR Water Research Institute, said: “It was great to actively participate in the Innovation Forum and help progress the discussion on ‘Mastering Water’s Digital Transformation’. The parliamentary-style debates provided some welcome provocative discussion between a variety of industry stakeholders.”
Innovation Forum social media buzz
The Innovation Forum created a real social media buzz before, during and after the event. Below is a selection of posts from some of the speakers and moderators.