A new kind of an innovation event that brings together professionals from the water, energy, telecoms and heat value chain to share knowledge and to work on the big challenges in a creative, disciplined process.

Why

Companies across the Utilities industry face similar challenges: ageing infrastructure, increasingly unpredictable supply and demand, and growing impact of climate change. Digital technologies offer a great promise, but a new kind of collaboration is key to solving these challenges: a closer connection between the industry and cities, regulators, scientists, water and energy users and technology companies.

About

Hack Utilities is an open innovation event for engineers, operations specialists and business developers. It is aimed at creating ingenious and unorthodox solutions for the most pressing issues the Utilities industry is facing.

The immediate purpose of the event is to help you create new projects that you can start implementing the morning after the event. To that end, participants will come up with new project ideas and test them immediately, forge new collaborations and explore new technologies.

HACK UTILITIES THEMES

  • FUTURE-PROOF INFRASTRUCTURE

    As ageing electricity, gas, water, telecommunications and transport networks are modernized, there is tremendous opportunity to coordinate such works better, to improve efficiency, enable easier works in the future and most importantly, to work towards a shared long-term vision.

  • GRID FLEXIBILITY

    Grids urgently need to become more flexible to cope with increasingly unpredictable electricity production (due to renewables and decentralised production) and consumption (electric vehicles). Gas (uncertain supply, need for ‘green’ gas) and water (drought, extreme weather, climate change) networks are facing similar pressures. How could we achieve more balance through synergies in electricity, gas, heat and hydrogen (e.g. heat in sewage, solar to hydrogen, hydrogen in gas networks, etc)?

  • LOCAL AND OFF-GRID SYSTEMS

    While Local Energy Communities are growing in popularity (especially wind power), there is also potential to include solar energy, heat networks, (waste) water and even hydrogen in the system despite technical and regulatory obstacles.

  • ENGAGING CONSUMERS

    Mobilising prosumers to manage demand is key to accelerating the energy transition. While utilities have tremendous assets (existing customer relationships, huge datasets) they can leverage for this purpose, exactly how could they do that?

  • DIGITAL NETWORKS

    With the advance of smart meters, building the Digital Twin of energy networks is becoming viable. Water networks, however, still have a long way to go. What are the “hackable” shortcuts to mapping and digitizing the water network? And how about combining data from electricity, water and gas networks, especially in the context of emerging privacy and security concerns?

HOW HACK UTILITIES WORKS

First, it’s a cross-industry event. It will bring together a widely diverse audience, 100-120 people – including city authorities, regulators, lawyers, software developers, university researchers, and specialists in technologies from AI and data science to drones, robotics, and IoT. People from every corner of the Utilities sector (and of Belgium and Europe) who daily face (and solve) similar problems in completely different ways – so there’s a lot to learn.

Second, it’s a very hands-on, interactive, intense event. You’ll spend most of your time working in small groups, interacting with experts (not just listening to them drone on from stage), and thinking hard about both operational and business aspects of your work.

Program

Day 1: Exploration, team formation and ideation

  • Deep dives in the problems and opportunities delivered by a cross-functional team of experts
  • Two rounds of ideation and networking
  • Technology briefings: case studies of technology implementations from Belgium and abroad
  • Team formation and networking sessions
  • Idea stretching and validation with experts and prosumers

Day 2: Refinement and presentation

  • Solution mapping, elaboration and validation with experts & prosumers
  • Presentations to peers and panelists
  • Reception & networking

TAKE PART

The event is open to participants from

  • Utilities industries (water, energy and telecom companies),
  • Industrial users of water and energy
    (chemicals and other industrial companies, public transport organizations).

Technology companies providing the following technologies are invited to join too:

  • IoT and sensors
  • Smart cities
  • AI and data science
  • Blockchain
  • Robotics
  • Aerospace and drones

Finally, all the other stakeholders are welcome to join:

  • Researchers
  • Technology startups
  • Local, regional and federal authorities and regulators
  • Prosumers – heavy users of water (e.g. farmers) or private energy generators (owners of photovoltaic installations)

Organisers

Hack Utilities is the initiative of Hack Belgium Labs, creators of the Hack Belgium, Europe’s biggest Open Innovation Festival. The event is organized in close collaboration with industry organizations such as Flux50, specialist consultancies and research institutions, and Vlakwa (The Flemish Water Knowledge Center), the independent intermediary in the integrated water chain. Challenges of the event are provided by Utilities companies and city authorities. Technology experts represent top Belgian and international companies.