Water sector innovation accelerator Spring has announced the three winners of its first water challenge, which saw participants tasked with finding emissions-cutting innovations.
Following the first challenge, new ideas from Siemens (which has offices in Coventry and Worcester), Xylem and Cobalt Water Global have been selected, and their uptake will now be mobilised in the UK through a collaboration of ten water companies.
Spring was launched in 2021 to help the water sector deliver its ambitious Water Innovation 2050 joint strategy. It is backed by all UK and Irish water and wastewater companies.
The Accelerator sets challenges related to the Water Innovation 2050 themes, encouraging the end-to-end process from ideation and assessment to collaboration and adoption. The initial stages of the first challenge, which asked innovators to find ways to reduce operational emissions, have successfully completed, with three new innovations on the fast-track to scaling and adoption.
The selected entries are:
Siemens – Optimising performance and emissions reduction using a white-box digital twin of the wastewater treatment process.
Adam Cartwright, Siemens head of internet of things applications, said: “As a supplier, it is exciting to see your solution transparently and robustly tested.
“With all the water companies coming together and agreeing a common evaluation framework for the trial it will reduce the time it takes to move to scale adoption. For me, this is the number one benefit of the Accelerator process.”
Xylem – Xylem Treatment System Optimisation (TSO) digital twin-based control platform for process optimisation and greenhouse gas reduction in wastewater treatment.
Oliver Puckering, Xylem principal process engineer for digital solutions, said: “Involvement in a truly collaborative approach, to what is one of the critical issues of our time, offers the potential for a best of breed combination of offerings.
“The level of engagement on all fronts has been very promising thus far. Spring is to be commended for this, particularly given this is the first of the challenges.”
Cobalt Water Global – N2ORisk Decision Support System to significantly reduce total greenhouse emissions at wastewater treatment plants by focusing on N2O.
Jose Porro, Cobalt Water Global founder and chief executive, said: “We are thrilled and honoured to have been chosen for the Spring innovation challenge to work with 10 leading UK water companies. We fully support Spring’s initiative to kick-off the challenge series with net zero technologies.
“Not only is it critical to find ways to accelerate innovation but also urgently needed climate action. This Spring challenge does both.”
The next phase of the first challenge has already begun through a series of mobilisation workshops with the three innovators and the water companies. Two of the innovations are already being trialled by Welsh Water, which has hosted an information sharing session with other water companies.
Once individual trials are complete, Severn Trent will lead a collaborative group trial.
Tony Harrington, Welsh Water director of environment and Spring board member, said: “We fully support the drive to accelerate innovation and enable collaboration within the water community and were delighted to share the insights of our trials as part of the Spring Accelerator challenge.
“By taking an open approach, we can help streamline the innovation process and enable faster roll-out of new innovations – something the whole sector will derive great value from.”
Spring Accelerator is now inviting feedback on the first stage of the trials. They are also planning their future challenges based on Water Innovation 2050, which will be added to their website in the coming months.
Carly Perry, Spring managing director said: “We are thrilled to have three innovative companies reach the collaborative phase of the Spring acceleration process. All three ideas have the potential to be gamechangers in helping the sector achieve its net zero challenge, which is why ten water companies want to work collaboratively to progress these innovations.
“I extend a huge thank you to everyone who submitted an idea following our callout back in February and congratulations to Cobalt Water Global, Xylem and Siemens.”
“The value for all of us is in the collaboration. We are excited to learn from our first challenge and to scale that value as we move forward to the next one. We will also be looking at cross-sector collaborations by inviting participation from innovators from a diverse range of industries.”