The aim of the Water Innovation Network is to drive innovation within the water industry supply chain and to encourage industrial end-users of water to adopt innovative solutions that reduce water demand.
The demand for innovative water solutions is largely driven by a relatively small number of water utility companies but is underpinned by a large and diverse supply chain made up of a large number of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). These SMEs often find it hard to engage with the large utility companies and so it is one of the main roles of the Water Innovation Network to create a gateway and a platform for these businesses to supply to the major utilities. Additionally, the Water Innovation Network engages with large industrial water-users who are increasingly looking for solutions to reduce water use and/or pollution. Five of the most water-intensive industries are being targeted: agriculture/fisheries; basic metals; chemicals; service industries; and food and drink.
Innovation within the water sector typically occurs in the supply chain and not within the water utilities and this is something which has been diminishing over the last 10 years due to constraints on funding and a consolidation of the water supply chain. To overcome this the Water Innovation Network, working with the water utility companies, fosters a culture of open innovation and leverages funding from public- and private-sector sources to put towards the research and development of innovative water solutions. This includes solutions which can reduce water pollution, assist in water treatment, enable more effective water distribution, rainwater/grey water harvesting devices and water efficiency solutions.
The key objectives of the Water Innovation Network are to:
- Stimulate innovation in the water industry supply chain to meet industry demand
- Create a collaborative network of water sector companies, organisations & universities
- Increase deal flow within the water sector
- Leverage additional national or European collaborative R&D funding
- Develop new overseas markets for the water industry supply chain
- Increase Government support of innovation in the sector and investment in R&D