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Ofwat (water regulator for England and Wales) has established a £200 million Innovation Fund to grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate, enabling it to better meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment.

From 2021 Ofwat will be running at least two rounds of the following competitions that water companies, in partnership with others, can enter with their innovations:

  • A £2 million Innovation in Water Challenge (IWC) with opportunity to win funding up to £250,000. The first round of the IWC will open on 18 January 2021. The entry period lasts six weeks, closing at 12 noon (GMT) on 26 February 2021.
  • A £40 million main competition. The first round will open for entries in Spring 2021. More details will be available from early 2021.

There are five key areas that Ofwat have identified that are big challenges for the sector, which would benefit from additional innovation, expressed in the five strategic innovation themes. Through the competitions, the Innovation Fund will support initiatives that can deliver significant value for customers, society and the environment aligned with one or more of these themes:

  1. Responding and adapting to climate change, including how to meet the sector’s ambition of net-zero emissions.
  2. Restoring and improving the ecological status of our water environments, protecting current and future customers from the impacts of extreme weather and pollution.
  3. Understanding long-term operational resilience and infrastructure risks to customers and the environment, finding solutions to mitigate these in sustainable and efficient ways.
  4. Testing new ways of conducting core activities to deliver wider public value.
  5. Exploring the opportunities associated with open data, stimulating innovation and collaboration, for example, encouraging new business models and service offerings that benefit customers, including those in vulnerable circumstances.

Further information is available here