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United Utilities picks 8 new tech firms in Innovation Lab 3

Warrington, 13th January 2020 – Low carbon 3D-concrete printing, sludge-cleaning microbes and satellites that hunt potential pipeline fractures – just three of the pioneering new technologies to make it onto United Utilities’ third Innovation Lab.

The innovative technologies will now be developed hand-in-hand with United Utilities, which gives them unrivalled access to the company’s expertise, processes, data and resources to help co-develop and bring them to market for the water sector.

A total of 103 startups submitted 118 ideas to meet the Programmes Categories which were Systems Thinking, Circular Economy, Future of Water and Wild Card. It was an increase in applications of 58% on previous years. Twenty were invited to virtually pitch their ideas in November.

It’s almost become normal for us to say how impressed we are at the standard and sheer brilliance of some of the ideas that come our way, but it really is true. Every one of them deserved a help getting their foot in the door of the water industry, but we can only take eight. We’re really looking forward to nurturing them and co-creating with them for the benefit of everyone in the water sector.

Kieran Brocklebank, Head of Innovation – United Utilities

The eight winning suppliers are:

Circular Economy

  • Changemaker 3D, a company from Malvern, UK, using mobile robotics machinery to 3D-print bespoke low carbon concrete items on site more quickly and with less waste than traditional cast or pre-cast.
  • Genesis Biosciences, a company from Cardiff, Wales, which has combined a fine natural mineral with specially selected microbes to aid anaerobic digestion, reduce sludge and generate more renewable energy.

Future of Water

  • Leakster Pty, a company from Queensland, Australia, which has developed a prototype Internet of Things (IoT) AI leak sensor which non-invasively monitors pipe condition to spot leaks, locate them and gauge their size.
  • SME Water, a company from Birkenhead, UK, who use machine-learning and applied data science to analyse flows in district metered areas and provide better understanding of water demand.

Systems Thinking

  • HWM, an established company from Cwmbran, Wales, with a novel idea for easy-install, low maintenance monitors and software to spot sewer blockages.
  • Noam, a firm from San Francisco, USA, using automated systems thinking to bring insight into unstructured data and spot trends, save costs and improve forecasting.


  • Planetek Italia, a company from Bari, Italy, combining satellite monitoring, ground-based activity monitoring and AI to detect the millimetre-scale ground movements which could lead to pipe fractures.
  • Transcend Software Inc, a company from New Jersey, USA, whose automated cloud-based design software can generate complete preliminary engineering packages at a fraction of the cost and time.These eight companies will now spend 12 weeks with United Utilities before presenting their final products at a Demo day in April.

United Utilities’ technology innovation lab is run in conjunction with L Marks and has successfully launched a number of new suppliers into the water market since it began in 2017.

Cumbrian firm Typhon took part in Innovation Lab 1 and developed its unique water treatment solution using advanced LED bulbs. Its first units are being installed this month, with the technology attracting interest from water companies and industrial users around the world.

Another UK company FIDO Tech took part in Innovation Lab 2 and its leakage detection solutions are now up and running at United Utilities and currently being piloted around the world.

For more information about the programme, visit the programme website.