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ThinkPlace is partnering with the WSAA and Isle Utilities to launch W-Lab

Re-thinking how we treat our most precious resource – Water


ThinkPlace is partnering with the WSAA and Isle Utilities to launch W-Lab - an innovation-technology program that will guide the Australian and New Zealand water industry through the changing times ahead. 

We’ve had a turbulent start to the new decade pushing communities and industries to embrace new approaches to resource management. The black summer bushfires that raged across Australia and the global COVID-19 pandemic have both had colossal impact and have demonstrated the vastly different forms crises can take, and the varied responses we need to be able to roll out. We have seen how we need to pivot quickly and confidently in uncertain circumstances. The importance of building adaptability and resilience into our resource industries has never been more obvious.

In an exciting partnership with Isle Utilities and The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) called ‘W-Lab’, ThinkPlace is helping the water sector in Australia and New Zealand to do just that.

Our partnership with Isle Utilities and ThinkPlace has been created following a global, competitive tender and it seeks to facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing, networking and cooperation in technology innovation across the entire WSAA membership. I would encourage all of our WSAA members to participate in the Technology Innovation Program - Adam Lovell, WSAA CEO

The W-Lab program is an industry-leading program that seeks to develop innovation technologies and capability across the water sector, in order prepare for future industry challenges and build long term resilience. Central to our process is collaborating with the Four Voices of Design, each of which will be represented in the project to bring their perspectives into the design process.

W-Lab WSAA ThinkPlace Isle Four Voices of Design

Adapting to our changing circumstance 


We’ll be kicking off the program with a Digital Innovation Summit that will be facilitated by ThinkPlace and Isle over the 11th, 12th and 15th of June. The Summit will bring together a range of stakeholders from across the water industry to explore the challenges facing the sector, identify opportunities for innovation, and develop strategies for how to utilise new technologies to undertake these innovations.

It’s a groundbreaking opportunity to facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing between the WSAA membership and world thought leaders.



Over the course of the Summit ThinkPlace and Isle will guide participants to develop technological solutions that they will trial and share back with the group. We will use the insights uncovered in this process to co-design a roadmap plotting out the future for technological innovation and resilience building across the sector. Our project partner, Isle Utilities, are leaders in technology innovation. Their experience and expertise will be invaluable in supporting the development and actualisation of the participants’ ideas at the Summit, and into the future.

The Summit was initially planned as a face-to-face engagement, but we’ve had to pivot to digital platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will now be facilitating the Summit through a series of Airlabs interactive digital workshops and design thinking 101 sessions.

As a society, we’re having to collectively exercise the adaptability and resilience and pivot to new ways of working. This Summit couldn’t have come at a better time as it will be a great opportunity to demonstrate new ways of digital communication to the water sector.

The summit at a glance

In the summit’s first session on the 11th of June, participants will be guided to engage with new digital design tools and start networking with the other attendees, to develop an understanding of where the industry needs to play to get the best outcomes from innovative technologies and to establish initial innovation frameworks.

The next session will see participants investigate and ideate upon these frameworks more deeply, utilising a human-centered design methodology to explore opportunities and blockers against these ideas. Our initial frameworks will be developed into a refined set of ideas to enable potential technology runways to be realised.

The concluding session of the summit will be focused around synthesising and transforming our ideas into a technology roadmap that plots out the future for technological innovation and resilience building across the water sector. Participants will prioritise our collaboratively identified ideas and engage in immersive deep dives to further co-design, refine and test them, all whilst developing strengthened relationships for potential future partnerships with other attendees.

Dr Nina Terrey from ThinkPlace with Isle Utilities at W-Lab

ThinkPlace is excited to work with Isle Utilities, who are leaders in technology innovation, and their experience and expertise will be invaluable in supporting the development and actualisation of the participants’ ideas at the Summit, and into the future. The combination of Isle’s excellent skill-set with ThinkPlace’s deep expertise in human-centred design and facilitation means the summit will be nothing less than a world-class experience in innovation co-design.

We use well-founded, design-thinking tools, to understand current and upcoming challenges as well as to visualise what an ideal future state could look like. We then identify, evaluate and present innovative, technological solutions to overcome these challenges. This process empowers our network to make confident decisions for their collective future. - Dr Alex Cech, Chief Technology Officer, Isle Utilities (APAC) 

Water industry is ready to embrace innovation


In preparation for the Summit we have been busy conducting interviews with stakeholder groups to identify key focus areas for innovation frameworks and understand the areas in the sector where improvement might be needed. It’s been so inspiring to see how the people that compose the industry have been bringing their knowledge and experience together to build a better future for everyone.

Isle and ThinkPlace have a specialised team of 100 across Australia and New Zealand and a global team of 200, spanning six continents and 13 countries. The team’s breadth of experience means we are big enough to give water utilities access to global innovation experience and capabilities, and small enough to provide local context. - Dr Nina Terry, Global Partner, ThinkPlace

We’ve seen the energy industry go through a massive transformation over the past decade in response to consumer desire and environmental circumstances - diversifying to embrace renewable energy sources and building resilience across the networks.

Now it’s the water industry’s turn, and the key players are meeting the challenge head on.


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