- Judging panels announced for the two streams of the second Water Breakthrough Challenge with wealth of expertise across areas such as innovation, customer insights and sustainability.
- Approximately £5 million will be awarded in the Catalyst Stream to entries seeking funding of between £100,000 and £1 million.
- Approximately £34 million will be awarded in the Transform Stream to entries seeking funding of between £1 million and £10 million
- The Water Breakthrough Challenge aims to encourage new ways of working that go beyond business-as-usual innovation practices in the water sector
25 January 2022 (London) – Water regulator Ofwat and innovation foundation Nesta Challenges are today announcing the expert judging panels for the two streams of the £39 million Water Breakthrough Challenge, which aims to bring forward industry-leading innovation that deliver benefits for water customers, society, and the environment.
Split into two streams, the Catalyst Stream will award approximately £5 million to entries seeking funding of between £100,000 and £1 million and the Transform Stream will award approximately £34 million to entries seeking funding of between £1 million and £10 million.
The Catalyst Stream panel includes judges who previously assessed entrants to last year’s Innovation in Water Challenge, with expert newcomer Alison Austin OBE (Independent Board Member of the Consumer Council of Water) joining the panel, alongside Tony Conway (Visiting Professor, University of Sheffield and Director of British Water), who also judged the first Water Breakthrough Challenge. They are joined on the Catalyst Stream judging panel by:
- Myrtle Dawes – Solution Centre Director, Oil & Gas Technology Centre
- Lila Thompson – Chief Executive, British Water
- Nicole Ballantyne – Knowledge Transfer Manager, Knowledge Transfer Network
- Adam Scorer – CEO, National Energy Action Wales
- Dragan Savic – CEO, KWR Water
The Transform Stream panel includes judges from the first Water Breakthrough Challenge, as well as two new respected industry experts, Dr Jane Davidson (Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Wales Trinity Saint David) and Dr Steven Steer (Lead Data Consultant, Zuhlke Group and former Head of Data at Ofgem). They join the remaining six judges on the panel:
- Anusha Shah – Director Resilient Cities, Arcadis, BEng, CEng, FICE
- Sharon Darcy – Director, Sustainability First
- Paul O’Callaghan – Founder & CEO, BlueTech Research
- Niki Roach – President, The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, Director and Co-Founder of AxiaOrigin, FCIWEM, CEnv
- Frank Rogalla – Director of Innovation and Technology, Aqualia (Spain)
- Tony Conway – Visiting Professor, Sheffield University and Prior executive director, United Utilities
The judges’ breadth of expertise will bring insights from within the water sector and beyond, as well as a deep understanding of innovation and customer concerns.
John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat said:
“Since we launched the Water Innovation Fund a year ago, the partnerships formed across industry have resulted in truly exciting projects that can make a massive difference to customers, the environment and the operational resilience of the water sector. I’m pleased to announce our judges for the second Water Breakthrough Challenge today who will bring their knowledge and expertise to bear on what is set to be a very competitive judging process.”
Alison Austin OBE, Independent Board Member of the Consumer Council of Water and Water Breakthrough Challenge Catalyst Stream judge said:
“I am delighted to join the rest of the expert panel of judges to award funding to innovative ideas that will benefit consumers, society and the environment in the future. I will be looking to make sure that the customer benefit can be evidenced, realised and scaled in the entries that are taken forward. There are some big challenges facing us in the next ten years, many of which depend on a different way of thinking and genuine collaboration. I am sure it will be a tough challenge to select the best innovations for customers.”
18 entries have been received for the Catalyst Stream, with English and Welsh water companies forming partnerships between 58 organisations across industry, academia and specialist solution providers. 25% of the partnerships are new relationships formed specially for the Water Breakthrough Challenge. The Transform Stream closes for final entries on 8 February 2022.
The Water Breakthrough Challenge contributes to water regulator Ofwat’s goal of creating an innovative and collaborative water sector that can meet the needs of customers, society, and the environment into the future. The Challenge funds initiatives that water companies would otherwise be unable to invest in or explore. New innovation competitions will be announced through to 2025, however Ofwat’s goal is that the Innovation Fund’s impact will be felt well beyond this.
The judging for the second Water Breakthrough Challenge will commence in February 2022 and the winners of the Water Breakthrough Challenge Catalyst Stream will be announced in March 2022 with the Transform Stream winners revealed in April 2022.
To find out more, visit waterinnovation.challenges.org.
Notes to editors
For all media enquiries contact:
About Ofwat’s innovation fund and the Water Breakthrough Challenge competition
About Ofwat’s Innovation Fund
Ofwat has established a £200 million Innovation Fund to grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate, enabling it to better meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment.
The second Water Breakthrough Challenge is run by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges in partnership with Arup and Isle Utilities and is the third in a series of competitions delivered through the Fund following the Innovation in Water Challenge and first Water Breakthrough Challenge last year.
Entries were encouraged from water companies in England and Wales, alongside partnerships with organisations within and outside the water sector, including universities and institutes, retailers, start-ups, or small businesses in sectors such as energy, manufacturing, health, or financial services.
To contact Ofwat’s press office, please call 07458 126271
About the Second Water Breakthrough Challenge Catalyst Stream
The second Water Breakthrough Challenge forms part of a series of competitions funded by Ofwat’s £200 million Water Innovation Fund. The competitions – run by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges in partnership with Arup and Isle Utilities – are encouraging new ways of working that go beyond business-as-usual innovation practices in the water industry, in particular, increasing and improving collaboration and building partnerships from within and outside the water sector.
The second Water Breakthrough Challenge Catalyst stream entry opened on 11 October 2021 to provide funding for further innovative water sector initiatives. Up to £35 million is available to be shared between entries that deliver benefits for water customers, society, and the environment. The entrants closed on 8th December 2021 and saw over 58 entrant organisations.
Water companies in England and Wales, as well as partnerships with organisations in the water sector supply chain and beyond, are encouraged to apply. Approximately £5 million is available through the ‘Catalyst Stream’ for entries that bid for between £100,000 and £1 million. Approximately £34 million is available through the ‘Transform Stream’ for entries that bid between £1 million and £10 million.
The Catalyst Stream will award approximately £5 million to entries from water companies and their partners in and outside of the water sector that are seeking funding of between £100,000 and £1 million. Initiatives funded through this Stream should encourage new ways of working that go beyond business-as-usual innovation practices, and is particularly focused on increasing and improving collaboration across the water sector.
The Transform Stream will award approximately £34 million to entries seeking funding of between £1 million and £10 million. This Stream is focused on sparking ambitious innovation, and initiatives should enable new approaches and ways of working which drive far-reaching and long-lasting benefits to customers, society and the environment.
About Nesta and Nesta Challenges
Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills, and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We’ve spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we’ve applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts.
Within Nesta, Nesta Challenges exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to act.
We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real and seed long term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta. We are challengers. We are innovators. We are game changers.#
Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Together we help our clients solve their most complex challenges – turning exciting ideas into tangible reality as we strive to find a better way and shape a better world. With a community of over 1700 water professionals, Arup is leading global thinking across key areas like innovation, resilience, net zero carbon and sustainable water management.
About Isle Utilities
Isle is a global team of independent scientists, engineers, business and regulatory experts with a common drive to make a positive environmental, social and economic impact through the advancement of innovative technologies, solutions and practices.