Thames Water awards internship to winners of the ultimate innovation challenge

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H2InnOvate winners

The winning team with the judging panel


A group of 50 students donned their thinking caps last weekend to devise innovative solutions to some of the water industry’s biggest challenges.

Thames Water’s first ever H2innOvate event was held on Saturday, April 28 and saw students from across the UK gather at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London to hear from innovation and industry experts, network with fellow academics and develop team working skills. All had their eye on the day’s top prize – a summer internship with Thames Water.

Throughout the day the students worked in small teams to develop their own ideas to tackle issues such as sewer abuse and an increasing demand for water before presenting them to a panel of judges,  including members of Thames Water’s executive team, the chair of the firm’s customer challenge group, and the CEO of The Future Water Association.

Judge and Thames Water’s director of strategic planning and investment, Sarah McMath, said: “Innovation is key in our industry and we’re continually searching for and implementing new and innovative ways to help ensure our customers receive the product and service they expect, along with great value for money. Some of the ideas from the attendees were amazing and I’m looking forward to working with the winning team on their solutions when they join us in the summer.”

H2InnOvate event

A campaign to reduce fatbergs and promote water efficiency by the ‘Shape Water’ team was the eventual winner. All five members have now been offered six-week internships with Thames Water’s digital innovation and research and development teams.

Callum Richards, a student from Imperial College London, who was a member of the winning team, said: “Despite working with some of the big industry leaders, who at first glance can seem intimidating, I felt as if we really engaged with them and felt comfortable. We were always encouraged to think outside of the box.”

Clare Carlaw, stakeholder relationship manager at Thames Water, who developed H2innOvate, said: “We were absolutely thrilled with the level of interest and were oversubscribed within just a few days following the launch. At Thames Water, we’re committed to nurturing talent, and what better way than to meet with keen, inspiring students and give them the opportunity to work with key leaders in innovation to develop their ideas. Hopefully this will be the first of many of these events that we host.”

Thames Water’s partners for the event were Amazon Web Services, IBM, Microsoft and PA Consulting.