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Open innovation challenge finds solutions to reduce Glasgow’s flood risk

Photo courtesy of SUDSBOX

In Glasgow, extreme rainfall, tidal rivers, aged sewage systems and the location of much of the city on a floodplain puts the city at risk of severe flooding events.

Finding solutions to help reduce this flood risk and support adaptation was the focus of the “Glasgow Climate Resilience Innovation Challenge” last week (7 June) — an open innovation challenge, organised and hosted by Climate-KIC and Innovate UK, to source bespoke climate resilience solutions for the Scottish city.

“Sudsbox”, a domestic rainwater management solution, and “River Change” were the two winners of the challenge in finals held on the innovation day of the Third European Climate Change Adaptation Conference. Both scooped a £20,000 prize, with potential for their solutions to be deployed in Glasgow.


SUDSBOX® (Sustainable Urban Drainage System box) is a rainwater management solution that enables homeowners to play a part in managing Glasgow’s flood risk. Layered boxes, consisting of a soil planter and an underlying “void space”, along with small and large diverter pipes, allow homeowners to create rain gardens that slow down runoff from storm water, filter air pollutants from roof water, and help grow the city’s green infrastructure.

The above ground system can be retrofitted for down pipes at private residences, or in commercial or public spaces. For maximum benefit in a sewer catchment, the units need to be fitted on many properties in a neighbourhood, which also reduces the need for disruption in streets and public spaces associated with alternative options such as new sewers, storm tanks and pumps.

River Change

The second winner, River Change, is a bamboo and fabric sculpture that communicates the science of how climate change impacts the water cycle. The art installation is a collaboration between Dr Lila Collet, a hydrologist at Heriot-Watt University and a specialist in the impact of climate change on floods and droughts; and Marion Parola, designer and co-founder of Bespoke Atelier, a design studio based in Glasgow, which specialises in art that transforms public spaces.

As people walk through the sculpture they will experience the river before and during climate change, experiencing water levels and different intensities of rainfall with and without adaptation solutions. At the end people will receive take-aways to encourage specific climate-positive behaviours.

The brief

Glasgow has a high risk of severe flooding events. Communities and homeowners have a vital role to play in storm- and rainwater management. Not only to protect themselves and their properties from climate impacts, but to contribute to green infrastructure and biodiversity.

Working with Climate-KIC, Glasgow City Council and The Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership (MGSDP) set two challenges in areas with built-in demand. The first challenge looked for innovative solutions to help Glasgow reduce its flood risk, which could be retrofitted to commercial or residential properties. The second challenge sought innovative ways to engage communities in addressing Glasgow’s climate resilience and environmental challenges.

The “Glasgow Climate Resilience Innovation Challenge” was held on 7 June as part of the Innovation Day at the Third European Climate Change Adaptation Conference.

You can read more about Climate-KIC’s new Climate Change Adaptation Innovation Approach and OASISHuba Climate-KIC flagship project  to catalyse and scale the global market for adaptation goods and services.