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Ofwat to launch new £4m open competitors for water innovation

Ofwat, the financial regulator of water companies in England and Wales, has introduced a brand new “open entry” competitors for innovators, in an obvious widening of the scope of its current £200m Innovation Fund, and a bid to encourage extra numerous concepts to remodel water companies.

The fund incentivises and rewards collaborative innovation within the water sector that meets key targets for the trade round one (or extra) of Ofwat’s 4 innovation themes:

  • adapting to local weather change and reaching web zero emissions;
  • defending and enhancing the surroundings;
  • delivering long-term operational resilience;
  • and bettering the supply of companies for patrons and society.

In its first 12 months, the fund awarded £63m to initiatives, together with a number of environmental engineering initiatives and environmental engagement initiatives. Ofwat says it’s eager to encourage bold engineering options to environmental challenges confronted by the water sector, promote a round financial system for bioresources and to have interaction clients within the well being and wellbeing of the water system.

One instance is Seagrass Seeds of Restoration – a consortium together with the Surroundings Company, College of Oxford, Pure England and Affinity Water – awarded £250k to revive seagrass meadows within the UK to seize carbon and nitrogen, bettering water high quality and marine habitats.

In the meantime CECCU (CHP Exhaust Carbon Seize and Utilisation) was awarded £3.1m to seize 5 million tonnes of CO2 produced by the water-sector’s Mixed Warmth and Energy vegetation and convert it into calcium carbonate for use to make paint, fertiliser, and prescription drugs.

Partaking communities extra broadly, Catchment Techniques Considering Cooperative (or CaSTCo) from the Rivers Belief, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and 9 water firms, was awarded £7.1m. It goals to revolutionise how knowledge in regards to the water surroundings is shared via citizen science programmes.

Ofwat has unveiled how the innovation fund will evolve to satisfy buyer, environmental and trade priorities within the years forward: a £38 million competitors to open in autumn 2022, the primary £4m open entry competitors to open in early 2023 – and persevering with the fund to 2030. It follows a session by the regulator on the long run course of the fund – and work to evaluate the fund and innovation within the water sector.

John Russell, Senior Director, Technique, Finance and Infrastructure at Ofwat mentioned:
“We’d like larger innovation within the water sector to deal with the numerous challenges it faces. The Innovation Fund has impressed a number of collaborations between firms in and out of doors of the water sector. The ambition of the profitable entries up to now demonstrates the sector’s dedication to construct a resilient water system that advantages the surroundings and clients. Over the following three years we are going to distribute roughly £120m to extra modern initiatives. I’m happy to announce the return of the Water Breakthrough Problem this autumn, plus a wholly new competitors open to innovators from any sector with concepts able to optimistic transformation for the water trade to comply with early in 2023. We’re additionally at the moment consulting on persevering with the fund to 2030. ”

The Water Breakthrough Problem 3 will launch on 3 October 2022 – with an £8m Catalyst stream and a £30m Rework stream – and can run yearly. Entrants to the Catalyst stream can bid for between £500k and £2m, whereas entrants to the Rework stream can bid for between £2m and £10m.

New open entry competitors coming 2023

Launching in early 2023, the open entry competitors ingredient of the fund will likely be a brand new initiative launched in response to the post-pilot session. Not like the Water Breakthrough Problem, there will likely be no requirement for organisations to accomplice or obtain sponsorship from a water firm to enter the competitors.

It’ll primarily goal early-stage innovation, allocating roughly £4 million in funding yearly, with as much as £500,000 out there for particular person entries.

As with different entrants to the Innovation Fund, entries to the brand new open entry competitors might want to align with a number of of Ofwat’s 4 innovation themes.

Present timeline for the fund
Ofwat is proposing to proceed the innovation fund till no less than March 2030. That is topic to the regulator’s session on its draft methodology for the 2024 value evaluate. Over the approaching months Ofwat will work with the water sector and different innovators to take a look at how the fund might proceed to stimulate innovation as much as 2030.

Ofwat expects to publish a full session choice companion doc in autumn 2022, which is able to set out additional info on the headline choices. It’ll embody extra element on the brand new open entry competitors, which will likely be developed in additional session with the water sector within the coming months. ​

To search out out extra about Ofwat’s Innovation Fund and to register curiosity in future competitions, go to



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