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Event Organiser: ICE

The ICE Strategy Sessions: Covid-19 – A catalyst for innovation in the water sector?

  • Lecture
  • Online
  • 23 June 2020
  • 09:00 - 10:30
The ICE Strategy Sessions: Covid-19 – A catalyst for innovation in the water sector?

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Could the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic create an opportunity for faster and better technological innovation in the water industry? This is the key question that will be discussed and debated in the ICE’s next Strategy Session Covid-19 – A catalyst for innovation in the water sector?

The sector is known for world class collaboration and has the ability to generate great new ideas. But at times its complex structure can mean firms are hampered in innovating and clients are sluggish in adopting new technologies.

The current crisis is forcing people everywhere to rapidly adapt to working in a more technologically “switched on” way, so does this also mean that the industry can better exploit opportunities to work smarter in providing clean water more safely and efficiently?

From the prevention and detection of leaks to big data and asset management the potential is there. And in an exciting development amid the persistent concerns around Covid-19 forcing widespread lockdowns, early research is emerging that points to the sewer system doubling up as an early warning system for tracking local outbreaks of the virus.

This online panel debate at 09.00 on 23 June will bring together a vibrant group of experts to guide us through the potential that technology has, and could have, in making the water sector fully fit for society’s needs today and in the future.

This session will be chaired by Mark Hansford, Director of Engineering Knowledge, ICE.


Paul Sheffield

Paul Sheffield


Paul studied civil engineering at the University of Surrey graduating in 1983, becoming Chartered in 1987.

Following graduation, he spent 31 years with the Kier Group, initially working on a wide range of civil engineering and construction projects in various parts of the world including a gold mine in Papua New Guinea, a commercial development in London, a concrete gravity dam in Snowdonia where he was the Chief Engineer and latterly as Project Director on a power station in Hertfordshire, a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia and underground railways in Hong Kong.

Between 2005 and 2010 he was on the Board of Kier with responsibility for their global civil engineering and construction activities and from 2010 to 2014 he was CEO of the Group with overall revenues of £3bn and activities spanning construction, support services, property development and high rise residential.

In 2014 he joined Laing O’Rourke to head their UK and Middle East construction business with close involvement in major infrastructure and construction projects such as Thames Tideway Tunnels and Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and various hospitals, schools, retail and residential projects.

Paul is currently a non-executive Director of Southern Water Services and is on the Supervisory Board of the Dutch Construction Group BAM. He is also an Industrial Advisor to the Board of Manchester Airport Group working on their capital expansion work at both Manchester and Stansted airports. He is a chartered engineer, an ICE Fellow and President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). He was awarded a CBE in 2014 for services to construction and charitable fundraising.

Caroline Wadsworth

Caroline Wadsworth

Water Innovation Hub Manager

Caroline manages the Water Innovation Hub for the TWENTY65 research consortium, bringing together academia, supply chain, industry, policy makers and regulators to re-imagine water, accelerate innovation and secure clean, sustainable water for all in the future. Her work focuses on breaking-down the silos traditionally seen in the industry; raising the value of water across society and improving the culture of innovation in order to accelerate responsible innovation and the development of resilient water systems.

Having worked in Environmental and Water industries for over 20 years and with a commercial background, Caroline has developed and delivered a variety of large, international programmes involving a wide range of stakeholders. She has a comprehensive working knowledge of the water industry and the challenges it faces and has developed an extensive network of global contacts. Prior to joining TWENTY65, Caroline was the Head of Consulting (Environment) for a niche consultancy specialising in the water sector. She has delivered high level strategies for Governments to improve water industry performance and led the investigation into the potential development of a UK Water Technology Accelerator Programme.

She has also worked as a Venture Partner for the only water focussed investor in the UK, were she helped to source deal flow, carry out due diligence and support technologies invested in to ensure global market success.

Dr Sally Watson

Dr Sally Watson

Digital Lead, Water and Environment

Sally was Mott MacDonald’s Global Practice Lead for Water Resources until the start of 2020 and she now manages the Professional and Technical Excellence and Digital activity for the Water and Environment Unit (UK & Europe).

She has a diverse background with over 30 years’ experience in consultancy, academia and the water industry covering groundwater and water resources, including groundwater flow and contaminant transport modelling, company and regional water resources planning and the impacts of climate change.

Dr Piers Clark

Dr Piers Clark

Founder and Chairman

Dr Piers Clark has more than 25 years’ experience in the water, waste and utilities sectors. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Isle Group, a technical, strategy and innovation consultancy, and was previously Asset Management Director and (from 2011 to 2015) Commercial Director at Thames Water, one of Europe’s largest water and wastewater companies.

He has published over 30 technical papers and several patent applications. Piers founded Isle in 2010 with a focus to accelerate innovation in the water sector by supporting over 200 water utilities and industrial end users in their efforts to drive innovation in their organisations through the implementation of innovation strategies, as well as identifying, evaluating and adopting emerging technology and innovative best practices in the most cost-effective way.

Isle has an unparalleled track record of establishing, managing and growing technology innovation platforms.

Mark Hansford

Mark Hansford


Mark is passionate about civil engineering. He is a civil engineer; he is a Fellow of the ICE; and throughout his 20-plus year career he has sought roles that have allowed him to work with others to both promote the profession and provide professional engineers with the information to help them become better engineers.

That passion for the industry stems from his 20-plus year association with it. He has a MEng in Civil Engineering (First class) from the University of Birmingham and spent three years as a practicing engineer with consultant Atkins before joining New Civil Engineer in 2000, a title he edited for five years before joining the ICE in February 2020.

As a practicing civil engineer he carried out water supply and distribution analysis in the UK and overseas, spending several months in Ghana conducting a fixed asset condition and revaluation study of its 100 largest urban water schemes.

At New Civil Engineer he visited and wrote technical reports on some of the world’s most spectacular structures in including the Burj Khalifa, the Brenner Base Tunnel and Vladivostok’s Russky Island bridge.

He also reported from the scene of a host of international engineering disasters including a bridge collapse in northern Portugal, a tunnel fire in Baltimore and tsunami-struck Sri Lanka. And in 2003 he was the first construction reporter into Iraq following the second Gulf War.

Beyond the ICE Mark volunteers time to judge numerous industry awards and in recognition of his efforts to promote the profession was in 2016 invited to join the Worshipful Company of Paviors, a City of London Livery Company that works to promote the highways industry and provide opportunities for young people through its London Highway Academy.

Andrea Gysin

Andrea Gysin

Head of Research, Development and Innovation

Andrea’s career spans almost 20 years in the water industry, during which time she has worked in blue chip consultancies, start-up and growth businesses. She joined Thames Water in September 2018 to lead the Research, Development and Innovation team. Prior to joining Thames Water, Andrea was the Managing Director, Europe for Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, a leader in the field of nutrient recycling.

Earlier in her career she launched an innovation programme in the UK water industry that supported technology commercialisation for over 50 start-up businesses and attracted over £20m venture investment to the sector.

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United Kingdom

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