Sponge city champion delivers keynote at BlueTech Forum 

Jun 03, 2024

The award-winning urban landscape architect behind China’s sponge city movement will deliver a keynote speech at BlueTech Forum 2024, which is held in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 2-4 June. Kongjian Yu’s innovative water-friendly infrastructure is transforming approaches to urban landscapes around the world, including 70 cities already completed in China.

  • Professor Kongjian Yu joins water technology event in Edinburgh
  • European premiere of Our Blue World documentary opens Forum
  • Dynamic networking and learning drives partnering for innovation

Professor Yu leads the College of Architecture & Landscape Architecture at Peking University and is founder of Turenscape, a company specialising in the creation of urban infrastructure that soaks up stormwater and opens up nature-rich green spaces. He is also an important voice in a powerful new film about humanity’s relationship with water – Our Blue World, and BlueTech Forum 2024 will open with the European premiere of this documentary.

Innovation in Action is the theme of the Forum, which takes place at historic venues across Scotland’s first city, including Edinburgh Castle and the Assembly Rooms. Exploration of inventive approaches to surface water management continue with a delegate visit to the new rain garden installation at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens. As well as nature-based approaches, the event will bring together the water industry leaders making breakthroughs on myriad challenges through a vast array of technologies and initiatives from around the world.  

Employing the six thinking hats approach of philosopher Edward de Bono, delegates will have the opportunity to join interactive problem-solving sessions with their peers and industry specialists. Some 20 issues will be on the table, including AI and digital transformation, resource recovery, hydrogen, nature-based solutions and creative communications. 

In another session, a quick-fire round of innovation success stories will give the floor to top partnerships who will share the secrets of their success – against the clock. These include Microsoft and FIDO enhancing resilience through leak detection; Coca-Cola and Kilimo working together on water stewardship and smart irrigation; and UK utility Severn Trent and Environmental Monitoring Solutions delivering an intelligent wastewater network to reduce sewer spills. 

Dynamic roundtables will give attendees the opportunity to network and build firm relationships between all players. The event has strong track record of selecting start-ups that achieve success and bringing them into a rich innovation ecosystem that connects them with established technology providers, investors and accelerators, and the industrial and municipal end-users of water and technologies. 

The event is organised by BlueTech Research, and chief executive Paul O’Callaghan said, “BlueTech Forum 2024 is the culmination of a three-part, innovation-themed arc, which has defined the last three years for this event. Along with our partners and sponsors, BlueTech has a clear and active purpose of sparking collaboration, driving and fostering relationships and tracking innovations emerging from the Forum for many years to come.  

“We recognise that our delegates’ time is incredibly valuable, and a key aspect of our mission is to ensure that they are rewarded with optimised opportunities for networking and peer-to-peer learning, along with access to world-leading expertise. With the stunning city of Edinburgh as the backdrop, we are sure all participants will have an extraordinary time.”  

Ralph Exton, vice president and chief marketing officer at Grundfos Water Utility has attended the event over many years, he said, “The Blue Tech Conference provides a unique platform for leaders in water technology to share and spark groundbreaking innovations. “We are eager to contribute valuable insights and engage in discussions on pioneering solutions to today’s critical water challenges, including sewer security and a vision toward drinkable rivers. For us, innovation in the water space is not just a theme—it’s the key to a safer, more sustainable future.”

Andrew Collier, executive – digital solutions, at Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions said, “BlueTech Forum is a critical event for driving ecological transformation in the water industry and Veolia always comes away with valuable insights after collaborating with our industry peers. “This year, I’m lucky enough to be included in a workshop about digital transformation, and Jon Freedman, our global government affairs leader, will speak about compliance for alternative water sources. We can’t wait to hear how others are tackling complex global water challenges and how — to borrow from this year’s theme — we can put innovation to action.”

Tuija Pohjolainen-Hiltunen, president of industry & water at chemical company Kemira said, “BlueTech Forum is probably the most effective event format in the water industry. Two days packed with outcome-focused workshops and discussions around the most pressing issues, to foster collaboration and innovation toward common goals.”



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