Water regulator launches £2 million challenge to find answers to industry challenges

Tap and water

The UK’s water regulator, Ofwat, has launched a £2 million Innovation in Water Challenge (IWC) to help tackle the biggest challenges facing the water industry, benefiting society and the environment.

Run in partnership with the innovation foundation Nesta Challenges, engineering consultancy Arup and Isle Utilities, the IWC is looking for collaborative initiatives that address the big challenges of today and the future; from achieving net zero, to protecting natural ecosystems from leakages or pollution, and delivering better value for money for water customers in England and Wales.

The IWC is the first of two competitions being run this year within Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund, to meet its aims of encouraging innovative ideas that water companies would otherwise be unable to invest in or explore.

Entries must be submitted by water companies from England and Wales together with their partner organisations. The partner organisations can be either within or outside the water sector, for example energy, manufacturing, health or financial services. Each winning partnership will receive between £50,000 and £250,000 to support their initiatives.

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat, said: “We strongly believe in the power of partnerships and collaboration in bringing about more innovation that will help deliver better outcomes for customers, society and the environment.

“We are now at a pivotal point in the sector’s future and we’re excited to open up the door to innovation and new ideas from both within and outside the sector. This is just the first of a series of competitions we’ll be running as part of our Innovation Fund to deliver long term transformational change for the water sector.”

Chris Gorst, Director of Challenges at Nesta Challenges, added: “The water sector is currently facing the most defining challenges of our era – from climate change to building long-term resilience against the effects of extreme weather and meeting the evolving needs of society. Innovation and collaboration are going to be key in meeting these challenges and we look forward to seeing bold ideas from entrants over the coming weeks.

“We’re open to all kinds of entries – from technology, methodologies and approaches, business practices, commercial models and other budding ideas – and we know the best ideas can often come from the most unlikely places, so we hope to see a range of partnerships from both within and outside the sector.”

The deadline for entries to the Innovation in Water Challenge is 12 noon on 26 February 2021.