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Shaping the future of flood innovation

Hiatt Jackson

Flood Innovation Centre

The rains of November 2019 and subsequent catastrophic flooding, coupled with the hydrological events of the past 20 years, have left no doubt that urban expansion and climate change have exposed us to disastrous impacts from increasing weather-related flooding. The Met Office confirms this, stating that “Since 1998, the UK has seen seven of the ten wettest years on record,” and predicting significant increases in the intensity of rainfall events, which is highly likely to contribute to incidences of surface water flooding.

These increases have impacted people all over the UK in one form or another and will continue to affect us all. According to the Environment Agency, more than 5.2 million properties in England are at risk of flooding with damages estimated at around £1.5 billion per year to residential and non-residential properties. This has knock-on impacts, including disruption to services such as schools and transport that affect even those whose properties are safe from flooding.

The impact of the future flood events therefore depends upon how we cope with the excess water and will require us to take an innovative approach to dealing with this problem.

What the Flood Resilience Market Needs

Traditional temporary flood barriers, such as sandbags, can work reasonably well in an emergency situation but are bulky to store, can be unwieldy and heavy to deploy and are intrinsically limited by quantity. With the imminent rising flood waters, we need to expand the search for solutions that will allow us to live with the water that is coming and minimize the impact that it has on our lives and property while encouraging uptake of property-level flood resilience measures.

The Flood Innovation Centre was formed to tackle this very issue and to help businesses in bringing flood resilience solutions to market more rapidly. The aim of the Centre is to grow the flood resilience market with innovative solutions while building a lasting collaboration ecosystem through the development of relationships between organisations which are innovating and university specialists. This will give businesses access to the cutting-edge technology and world-class facilities at the University of Hull. The Flood Innovation Centre will help to shape the future of flood innovation and ensure that the UK continues to grow and develop products, processes and services that will revolutionise how we deal with the rising waters.

How to Lower the Risk of Innovation

Innovation is second nature to many small and medium sized businesses. It is the life-blood of growth and success. But sometimes a conceptual problem or lack of specialist technical capability can prevent an innovation from coming to fruition. Collaboration is an excellent way to lower or spread the risk of innovation while reducing the burden for each individual organisation. There are many ways that small and medium sized businesses can work with other organisations, such as universities, the public sector and other businesses, to accelerate innovation plans. Collaboration is about sharing strengths and knowledge and is a core part of academic

activity. Businesses benefit from the University’s cutting-edge research and the University benefits from understanding the needs of the market to shape and direct its research for the future.

“Knowledge exchange is core university business, it’s why we do what we do... Knowledge exchange is about using what the University does to make life better, to improve economies, to improve societies and to improve health and well-being.”

Bill Walker,
Director of Strategic Relationships & Knowledge Exchange

Accelerate the Development of Your Innovation

There are several ways in which working with the Flood Innovation Centre can help expand an organisation’s ability to innovate:

1. Concept and Design Modification Consultation

  • Engineering and business design consultation
  • Help you turn your ideas into effective designs that will allow you to move forward with your innovation projects

2. Prototyping

  • Printed circuit boards for initial testing and design modification
  • 3-D printing in a variety of materials including polymers and metals

3. Testing

  • Extensive range of testing facilities
  • Hydro-dynamic performance testing
  • Strain monitoring
  • Circuitry testing
  • Chemical analysis

4. Software modelling

  • High Performance Computing
  • Bespoke Flood Modelling

5. AR / VR

  • Augmented and Virtual Reality Simulations

6. Supply Chain and Logistics

  • Supply Chain Mapping
  • Systems Integration
  • Database development 7. Innovation Process Support
  • Market Analysis
  • Innovation Process analysis

8. Process and Service Innovation Support

  • Early stage commercialisation
  • Process improvements

9. Workshops

  • In-depth, bespoke technology workshops
  • Sector or Project based collaborative workshops

Innovation support can mean the difference between commercialisation and a great idea getting put on the back burner. Programmes like the Flood Innovation Centre can significantly help a business to develop new products, processes and services and bring them to market.

To find out more about how the Flood Innovation Centre can help your business innovate in flood resilience, go to www.floodinnovation.co.uk or email flic@hull.ac.uk.