England and Wales’ water regulator Ofwat has launched the Water Discovery Challenge - a £4 million (€4.5 million) competition for innovators from the energy industry with bold and ingenious ideas.
The competition is the latest from Ofwat’s £200 million (€226 million) Innovation Fund, which seeks to generate new ideas to tackle issues including managing leaks, preventing pollution, improving water efficiency, reducing emissions, boosting flood and drought resilience, prioritising sustainable practices, and supporting vulnerable customers.
Where previous Ofwat Innovation Fund competitions have focused on innovations from, and led by, those within the sector, the new Water Discovery Challenge is incentivising ideas from, and led by, those outside of the water sector – including those in the energy industry.
Up to 20 teams of the most promising innovators will be awarded up to £50,000 (€56,000) to develop their ideas, with expert support and mentoring from water companies. Up to 10 will go on to win up to £450,000 (€500,000) to turn ideas into pilots.
David Black, chief executive of Ofwat, said: “It’s no secret that the water sector has faced challenges in the last year. As a regulator we’re constantly pushing the sector to overcome these. Water affects everyone, and it's time we see what the water sector can learn from astronauts, farmers, data specialists, architects and planners. This is about preparing the water sector for the future, and I look forward to the ideas that come out of it.”
Holly Jamieson, director at Challenge Works, said: “Our experience of nurturing and rewarding innovators across multiple challenge prizes has shown us that it is often the least likely suspects that can provide the solution with the greatest impact. And with the support of Arup and Isle Utilities, we can work closely with innovators from outside the water sector to turn great ideas into real-world solutions.”