The UK’s water sector is poised to undergo a transformation and use innovative new technologies to help it on its way towards the country’s net-zero vision of the future.
Writing for WWT Online, Lila Thompson, chief executive of British Water, said that the industry is looking for new solutions to help it tackle issues such as water leakage and pollution. One of the ways in which this is being supported is through the Innovation in Water Challenge (IWC) that’s being led by regulator Ofwat.
Ms Thompson revealed that she is one of the judges for the first round of entries, which were submitted in January and February this year.
The competition was open to the 17 water only and water and wastewater companies operating in the UK, as well as any new entrant water companies, who could partner with any other organisation to bring an innovation to the table as part of the competition.
In April, the winners of this particular challenge will be announced and will receive part of the £2 million fund that has been established by the regulator for this particular competition.
This is part of a much wider initiative by Ofwat, with the regulator having created a £200 million innovation fund to “grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate, enabling it to better meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment”.
Ms Thompson explained that this is the first in a series of such innovation competitions, which she believes are “a fantastic boost for the industry”.
“I have a long-held belief that while multi-stakeholder conversations are a critical starting point to water’s progress, these must be followed up by initiatives with measurable and visible outcomes, if the sector is to move forward at the required pace and build customer trust,” she added.
She is also hopeful that this competition will lead to solutions that would not have been considered if they had been developed by water companies in isolation as part of their business-as-usual practices.
The next of Ofwat’s innovation challenges will open for entries on 6 May 2021 and close on 3 June 2021. Named the Water Breakthrough Challenge, entrants will be competing for part of a £40 million pot in this competition.
Entries that want to be considered for a portion of this fund will have to show that their innovations deliver across three broad categories, the first of which is to have a positive impact for customers, society and the environment.
The other two categories are innovation enablers and innovative solutions; and capacity, capability and commitment to deliver. Showing that the company in question has a clear and realistic delivery plan will be key to accessing any of the Ofwat funding.
All of this innovation is likely to be great news for customers, whether residential or business. It could lead to improved service levels or even lower water bills depending on what is being proposed by different water companies.
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