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Durham University

Durham University News


Harnessing innovation to tackle water challenges

(16 July 2018)

Durham University researchers have worked with global, national and local companies to tackle water-related challenges as part of a major innovation festival.

The University was headline sponsor at this year’s Northumbrian Water Group’s (NWG) Innovation Festival, which brought together stakeholders from national and global companies, regional businesses and universities to find ways to tackle societal and environmental challenges.

Participation in this year’s Innovation Festival follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in May 2018, formalising an ongoing partnership between Durham University and Northumbrian Water.

Water Hub workshop

The Innovation Festival proactively addressed water-related challenges through 13 workshops across five days, including one led by Durham University’s Water Hub project.

The three day workshop was entitled ‘2019 – the year of Green Action’, and explored how the Water Hub and businesses can work together to protect the North East of England’s natural environment and promote sustainable growth.

The Water Hub project is a partnership between the University, the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water and Durham County Council and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The ERDF awards funding at a regional level with priorities including support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and research and innovation.

Led by experts in flooding and environmental sustainability at Durham University, the Water Hub works with businesses to tackle water and environmental challenges, including water efficiency, water cleaning and flooding, by offering access to small grants, research collaboration, product testing and networking.

The theme of the Water Hub workshop at the Innovation Festival follows the launch of the UK government’s 25 year plan for the environment, a long term approach to protecting and enhancing England’s natural environment.

Working in partnership

Speaking about Durham University’s involvement in this year’s Innovation Festival, Jane Robinson, Chief Operating Officer at Durham University, said: “The Water Hub is one of several projects where we are working in partnership with Northumbrian Water Group to support economic growth in the region.

“The Innovation Festival was a fantastic opportunity to explore how the Water Hub can work with businesses in the region to tackle water-related challenges. It is great to see how the University’s research expertise is helping businesses to respond to these challenges.

“We are committed to further developing and growing our partnership with Northumbrian Water to support water sustainability both in this country and internationally.”

The MOU between Durham University and Northumbria Water Group seeks to share research and develop expertise in areas such as catchment management, risk and resilience, stakeholder engagement, innovation, data science and energy.

The five-year partnership will also support economic growth in the North East of England, particularly by providing support to SMEs with access to research and development expertise to overcome water-related challenges.

The Water Hub forms a key part of the University’s plans to deliver the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

Find out more

  • The Water Hub has received £387,883 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund.


  • Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit .
    • If you would like to join Durham University, we’ll be recruiting academic staff later this year in our Annual Recruitment Campaign. Please register your interest and we will contact you when vacancies are advertised.

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