Digitalisation and sustainability were the core themes of the second Iwater event, held from November 13th to the 15th, 2018, at the Gran Vía venue of Fira de Barcelona. For three days, the show brought together companies, professionals, representatives from authorities and experts involved in water cycle management, promoting the water business and professional networking, and creating a favourable atmosphere to learn about the latest technologies, solutions and advances in the water sector, as well as to analyse and discuss the most immediate future challenges.
With some one hundred exhibitors from eight countries, Iwater showcased technologies, products, solutions and services that come into play in the different stages of the water cycle. More than 170 brand names were present at the trade fair.
Iwater 2018 highlighted the need to modernise water infrastructure in order to ensure smart and sustainable water management in cities, industry and agriculture. The fair revealed an increasing use of technology in water management and treatment, thanks to the technologies of industry 4.0: the Internet of Things, Big Data, Blockchain or Artificial Intelligence solutions provide real time consumption information to users and managers. Also, Iwater demonstrated that Spanish water companies are innovation leaders, known worldwide.
Greater visitor quality
More than 4,000 people attended the show, meeting preliminary expectations. In addition, holding the event alongside the Smart City Expo World Congress and Smart Mobility Congress (with 24,000 visitors from 120 countries) led to very positive synergies, since many participants involved in urban and public services management, representatives from cities, experts and other professionals also attended Iwater to learn about technologies to improve water management in urban areas.
Exhibitors were satisfied with the quality of the contacts they made at the fair. Furthermore, participating firms noted the broad range of professional profiles, as well as the increase in international visitors in comparison to the first edition of this event.
Concerning internationalisation, worth noting are the over 500 business meetings held among the exhibitors and the delegations of 10 countries directly invited by the organisers to boost the exports of Spanish products, services and technology for the water cycle.
Moreover, to encourage networking, business partnerships and technology transfer agreements, the trade show hosted Water Market Europe, an event organised by the European Technology Platform for Water (Wsstp). This one day event combined brief presentations on the transition to digital water with 40 B2B meetings, with the participation of 50 SMEs, startups, investors, universities, technology centres, representatives from cities, etc. In total, some 400 professionals from different countries gathered to participate in the Brokerage Event, organised by Acció and shared with the Smart City Expo World Congress.
At the same time, Iwater laid the foundation to increase the convening power of the trade show in the countries of the Mediterranean basin in future events, signing an agreement with the Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) to hold the 2020 Mediterranean Water Forum.
Knowledge, technology, and research, development and innovation (RDI)
This year, the show focused on innovation and technology as key strategies for the future. Fourteen RDI projects were presented at the InnoHub, from technology centres, universities and companies, and 45 case studies and real applications of the products from the exhibitors were presented at the TechHub. On the other hand, the series of lectures and debates known as 'Iwater Stories' dealt with topics such as the opportunities offered by different world markets, sustainability, digital water or the presentation of the Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), a joint programme with the participation of the EU and Mediterranean countries to achieve sustainable agriculture, resilient to water stress. In total, Iwater has organised some 60 presentations of products, projects and research, and 20 lectures, with the participation of 850 people.
Then, the Water Economy Forum — which held its 9th edition during the Iwater show — organised six round tables with some of the best known sector experts, such as Dustin Garrick, Oxford University Professor, in charge of the Oxford Water Network; the Academic Director of the Water Economy Forum, Gonzalo Delacámara; the former Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and current President of the Spanish Sustainable Development Network (REDS), Miguel Ángel Moratinos; the former Minister of Health and current Director of International Development at the Global Health Institute in Barcelona (ISGlobal), Leire Pajín; Fredik Galtung, founder of the TrueFootprint startup, or Arthur Wood, founding partner of Total Capital Investment. A very comprehensive programme that opened the debate about potential solutions to the great challenges the sector faces, such as the need to rewrite a social contract on water between citizens, public authorities and the private sector, which was attended by more than 200 people.
Iwater laid the foundation to increase its convening power in the countries of the Mediterranean basin in future events
Sofrel Lacroix, Contazara and Socamex win the 2018 Iwater Awards
One of the highlights was the presentation of the Iwater Awards, held on November 14th during the trade show. The recipients were Sofrel Lacroix, for their remote management system 4.0. Sofrel S4W; Contazara for their technological solution 4.0 that allows remote reading of water meters thanks to the standard use of Narrow Band–IoT communications; and Socamex, for their RDI project Smart Plant, aimed to renew waste water treatment plants. These proposals were the most prominent ones among the some one hundred projects presented to the best product, best solution and best research for the water sector categories, respectively.
The Catalan Water Agency coordinated guided tours to several infrastructure facilities in the metropolitan area which were quite popular, with nearly 80 participants.
Iwater had the support of the main water sector associations in Spain, as well as the crucial support of the International Water Association, IWA, that recognises this trade show as a landmark event for the sector.