WRc 5th Innovation Event – “Sharing Knowledge for a Changing World” and the “Circular Economy as a Driver for Change”

May 11, 2016 Categories: Latest News

Building on the success of the last four years, WRc’s 5th Innovation Day took place on the 27th April 2016 with an evening awards event the night before.

Our theme for 2016 was Sharing Knowledge for a Changing World and  explored how our business world needs to adapt to changing forms of communication and behaviour and advances in technology.  How do we need to adapt our own behaviours to make best use of this new digital era? What new technologies and processes can we implement to move our businesses forward? How can the circular economy be a driver for change?

WRc kicked off the innovation event in the exciting surroundings of STEAM Museum in Swindon with an invitation only evening Innovation Awards Ceremony.

Nestled alongside the Caerphilly Castle Steam Engine, Neil Kermode, EMEC’s MD talked about “Innovation: I wish it was rocket science …”  This was followed by the formal launch of the WRc and Arup Partnership -  Venturi,  the global innovation platform that brings innovative products and services, together with real sector needs.

Following eight pitches against the clock, guests interactively voted for the innovation idea that impressed them most. The winners of the WRc Innovation Award 2016 were Weeding Technologies for their non-toxic  Foamstream technology for controlling weed, moss and algae

Left to right: Mark Smith, CEO - WRc and Fraser Higson, Weeding Technologies

Over 300 guests arrived at WRc for the 2016 Innovation Day. Mark Smith’s welcome speech was followed by 4 great keynotes. First up was Simon Walker of Candover Consulting and round the world sailor. Simon talked about Future Proofing Your Organisation including how to communicate with generation Y and required changes in leadership, technology and processes to retain talent and deliver services our customers expect


Ian McAulay, CEO of Viridor, presented on The Circular Economy as a Driving Force for Change. Ian highlighted the economic and environmental benefits of a circular economy approach and called for regional resource networks to facilitate combined action. Ian also cited examples of developing wastewater and energy from waste collaboration between Pennon Group companies Viridor and South West Water.

Photo courtesy of ESA

Jon Brigg maintained the cross-sector theme. He presented An Integrated Approach to Innovation which has the circular economy at the heart of Yorkshire Water’s water, wastewater and resource plan and is essential to deliver transformational change.

EMEC’s Eileen Linklater spoke about A pathway to Commercialisation for New Technologies and a fascinating Q&A panel session on communication, engaging with younger employees, and cross-sector collaboration, completed the morning. WRc guests then had time to network and visit the exhibition halls which housed over 55 innovative technologies and processes showcasing “Innovation in Action”, as well as organisations like the ESA and Bliss, WRc’s charity of the year (with a cycling challenge!).

The afternoon saw 3 paralell workshops on topical themes.

The Circular Economy workshop examined the complexities of true circularity during a hands-on activity to ‘build’ a town.  This exercise picked up the earlier theme of the need for cross-sector collaboration and demonstrated that it’s much easier to apply circular principles in new developments with early engagement of all stakeholders, than retrofitting existing towns. Having an open book avoids vision being constrained by legacy.  Another outcome was the potential opportunity for greater employment and enhanced quality of life. At the workshop WRc also launched the ‘Innovation in Infrastructure output from a recent cross-sector workshop. This report presents eight case studies on the transition to a circular economy from the energy, resources and water sector.


The Maximising Digital and Real-World Interactions workshop covered how we prefer to give and receive communication in different styles and how this relates to our digital interactions and networking. The New Platforms for Innovation and Knowledge Sharing workshop gave attendees the opportunity to learn about some options for knowledge sharing and collaboration and how to select the right platform to achieve their goals.

After reports back from the workshop we heard that the event had raised over £1000 for Bliss. The day closed with a video and photo montage from artists, photographers and film crew from Isambard Community School. This was the student’s own take on the event and went down very well.

Feedback has shown that the day was a great success. Visitors enjoyed seeing, hearing or doing something new and networking with people from other sectors they would not normally get the chance to meet. #innovationthroughcollaboration!

For further information about the event, please visit our downloads page for speakers presentations, photos and video, or email pr@wrcplc.co.uk

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