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Six new tech firms selected for United Utilities Innovation Lab 4

  • Six new tech firms selected for United Utilities Innovation Lab 4

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United Utilities
We are United Utilities, the North West's water company - keeping the taps flowing and the toilets flushing for 3 million homes and 200,000 businesses across the region.

Autonomous vehicles that collect and analyse water samples, an app to manage valve operations and a bacterial water scanner are just some of the pioneering technologies to be selected for further development through United Utilities’ latest Innovation Lab.

The UK water company has announced the six winners of its highly respected global tech-hunt for bright new ideas with all but one of the companies from across the UK and the other from Israel.

The winning technologies will now be developed during the next three months in partnership with United Utilities, giving the developers unrivalled access to the company’s expertise, processes, data and resources to help co-develop and enhance their products.

In addition to the companies selected to take part in the Innovation Lab, this year, for the first time, a further six companies have also been selected to work with United Utilities to explore their ideas further.

The first six winning suppliers are going to help to reduce leakage and flooding, reduce the cost of water treatment and keep more people safe

This latest round of Innovation Lab saw companies submitting ideas across the categories of Digital Network Business, Energy Efficiency, Net Zero and Natural, and Wildcard; 30 were selected to virtually pitch their ideas in January.

United Utilities Head of Innovation Kieran Brocklebank said: “We’re now in our fourth lab programme and we all continue to be impressed at the sheer brilliance of some of the ideas and early concepts that come our way.  Our success from previous labs means that all twelve companies have potential to grow their business and work with us for many years to come. We’re really looking forward to nurturing them and co-creating with them for the benefit of everyone in the water sector.”

The first six winning suppliers are going to help to reduce leakage and flooding, reduce the cost of water treatment and keep more people safe:

Digital Business Network category

Smartvalve from Lincoln has developed an app to manage and monitor manual valve operations. By ensuring all valve operations are carried out efficiently it reduces the creation of transient pressure which means fewer bursts, leaks and water discolouration events.

Previsico, from Loughborough has developed a warning system for surface water and ordinary water course floods using live hydrodynamic modelling software to generate flood forecasts using cutting edge forecasting technology.

ClearWater Sensors from Southampton for their portable battery-powered submersible chemical sensors which can be used for long-term and real-time water chemistry monitoring.

Wildcard category

VBact from Israel has developed a bacterial water scanner which provides real-time continuous automated bio monitoring for water quality and safety applications.

Altitude Thinking from Grangemouth has developed a series of autonomous, remotely operated vehicles to collect water quality samples and data.

Automutatio from Hailshaw has developed data management tools to drive improvements in safety performance.

These six companies will now spend 12 intensive weeks with United Utilities before presenting their final products at a demonstration day in July. After that, they will agree the best relationship for the long term.

United Utilities’ idea development programme is run in conjunction with L Marks and has successfully launched a number of new suppliers into the water market since it began in 2017. In total, United Utilities has awarded long term contracts with eight suppliers and created forty-five new jobs, many of them in the North West.

Cumbrian firm Typhon took part in Innovation Lab 1 and developed its unique low-energy water treatment solution using advanced LED bulbs. Its first units were installed at the treatment works serving Carlisle and their award-winning technology is now attracting interest from water companies and industrial users around the world.

Another UK company FIDO Tech took part in Innovation Lab 2 and its leakage detection solutions are now up and running at United Utilities and also being used around the world. Whilst the company is still working with three companies from Lab 3 in 2020.

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