The water sector affects us all, whether that be down to our drinking water in our homes, flooding in our local areas or on a wider environmental scale. It is important. Which is why the sector as a whole is constantly on the hunt for innovative water management technologies to help them in-house to solve some of the pressing issues of today.
This is where initiatives like the L Marks’ water innovation labs have significantly helped this sector, specifically with one of the largest UK utilities companies – United Utilities. Not only does this help United Utilities as a company but they also then share sector-wide – this is a great way for suppliers to get their foot in the door of this sector or even suppliers who have new innovative ideas to test in a live environment.
Experts from the organisation are formed into teams around each successful supplier to achieve a successful proof of concept during the lab (10-12 weeks).
Why innovate in the water and wastewater sector?
As detailed by ‘SDG Goal 6’, water is central to our existence. How the water sector performs now and into the future matters for all of us and our environment. This sector is constantly evolving and improving, this is widely led by the regulatory body ‘Ofwat’ and environmental agency.
Utilities need to ensure they meet the requirements of the regulatory body, which is where innovation has a significant impact. Taking the best and most forward-facing solutions from around the world can help utilities solve problems that they cannot always do in-house.
As with many sectors now, delivering greater environmental and social value is a top priority – this includes things like acting immediately on river water quality issues, moving towards net zero as well as natural nature-based solutions. Customer focus is also crucial in the water sector so any water innovation project which can help with this is also useful.
What are the opportunities in the water and wastewater sector?
There is never a better time for opportunities for innovation within the water industry, with large initiatives like the ‘UK 2050 Water Innovation Strategy’ being published in partnership with all 19 water companies in the UK and ‘Ofwat Innovation fund’ – there is a large drive in this space.
There are 7 key themes produced from the 2050 innovation strategy which encapsulate their ambitions. These are:
- Providing the services society needs, expects and values
- Provide clean water for all
- Protect and enhance natural systems
- Deliver resilient infrastructure systems
- Achieve carbon neutrality
- Take a whole life approach to responsible production and consumption
- Enable diverse future-ready people and partnership working
Furthermore, within the Ofwat PR24, key ambitions are centred around net zero, catchment monitoring, river and water quality and nature-based solutions. Globally it has also been recognised that improving techniques for water monitoring, improving and greening water infrastructure and recovering nutrients are also opportunity areas.
Why partner with L Marks?
The water industry is constantly on the lookout for new emerging technologies from inside and outside of the sector which could make services safer, faster, and cheaper for customers.
This is why the Innovation Lab is ideal as it places forward-facing new technologies at the heart of operations to demonstrate their solutions in a live environment, alongside senior executives and stakeholders. The success rate on these labs is extremely high, with over 70% of the cohorts going on to form a long-term commercial relationship.
L Marks provides the structure needed for live, open innovation to be a success. It also enhances the entrepreneurial spirit within the company, as departments are involved in developing solutions to fit their needs.
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