Ofwat launches £2m innovation challenge for water sector


Water regulator Ofwat has opened a £2 million Innovation in Water Challenge for entries to help tackle the biggest challenges facing the water industry, benefiting society and the environment.

Run by Ofwat, in partnership with Nesta Challenges, 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.

The Challenge is the first of two competitions being run this year within Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund, as part of the regulator’s goal to create ‘an innovative and collaborative water sector’ that is well-placed to meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment.

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat, commented on the announcement: “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.”

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.

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 is 12pm on 26 February 2021.

More information about the Innovation in Water Challenge is available on the Innovation Fund website.