PN 05/21: Expert independent judging panel announced for £2m Innovation in Water Challenge

  • Ofwat’s inaugural £2m Innovation in Water Challenge, run in partnership with Nesta Challenges, Arup and Isle Utilities, aims to stimulate innovative responses to tackle key challenges facing the water sector
  • Expert panel of eight independent judges includes leaders from across the water industry and other sectors, including manufacturing and energy, with expertise in issues such as consumer protection and collaboration
  • Competition open to all water companies and their partners to submit their ideas by 26 Feb and win up to £250,000

16 February 2021 – Ofwat and Nesta Challenges are today revealing the judging panel for the inaugural £2 million Innovation in Water Challenge, which aims to help tackle the biggest challenges facing the water industry.

Led by Ofwat, in partnership with Nesta Challenges, Arup and Isle Utilities, the Challenge is looking for collaborative and innovative initiatives that will meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment in the years to come. The challenges it seeks to address range from achieving net zero, to protecting natural ecosystems from leakages or pollution and delivering better value for money for water customers in England and Wales.

The inaugural Challenge is the first of two launching this year as part of Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund. It aims to support innovative initiatives that the water sector would otherwise be unable to invest in or explore – with each winning entrant receiving between £50,000 and £250,000. It is open to water companies and NAVs (new appointments and variations) from England and Wales together with partner organisations (which may be outside of the water sector).

Boasting a number of experts and leaders within the industry and other related sectors, the independent eight-person strong judging panel are:

  • Nicole Ballantyne – Knowledge Transfer Manager (Manufacturing), Knowledge Transfer Network
  • Myrtle Dawes – Solution Centre Director, OGTC
  • Chris Newsome – Director, UK Water Partnership
  • Dragan Savic – CEO, KWR Water Research Institute
  • Adam Scorer – Chief Executive, National Energy Action
  • Rachel Skinner – Executive Director (Transport), WSP Global, and President, Institution of Civil Engineers (Chair)
  • Lila Thompson – Chief Executive, British Water
  • Rhodri Williams – Wales Chair, Consumer Council for Water

The judges’ breadth of expertise  will bring insights from both water and other sectors, as well as a deep understanding of innovation itself and customer concerns.

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat commented:

“We have a fantastic panel of judges working together with us on this Challenge – drawing expertise from a number of sectors and disciplines that, together, will bring invaluable insight to the judging and assessing process. We believe partnerships and collaboration are at the heart of meeting the challenges facing the water industry – and we are looking forward to receiving new and exciting ideas that will help change the sector for years to come.”

Chris Gorst, Director of Challenges at Nesta Challenges commented:

“We’re excited about the Innovation in Water Challenge. It has the potential to change the industry and bring about long-term benefits for customers, society and the environment. We anticipate receiving a high calibre of entries that will make the task of judging them exciting but challenging. However, we’re confident that we have the right insights and expertise from across the industry and beyond within our judging panel to help us assess the entries.”

Rachel Skinner, Executive Director (Transport), WSP Global, and President, Institution of Civil Engineers and Chair of the judging panel, said:

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Innovation in Water Challenge judging panel and look forward to seeing some exceptional case studies that are helping society to address the urgent climate challenge.”

To find out more and apply for the IWC visit The deadline for entries is 12 noon (GMT) on 26 February 2021 with the winners of the IWC announced in March.

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Notes to Editors:

For all media enquiries please contact Robyn Margetts, [email protected] or Emma Harvey, [email protected]

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 take action.

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.

About Ofwat

Ofwat is the economic regulator of water and wastewater services in England and Wales. Our duties are set out on our website: To contact Ofwat’s press office, please call 07458 030 677.

Judges Profiles

Please find more details about each of the judges on