Innovation in Water Challenge

Stimulating innovative responses to challenges in the water industry

Part of the Ofwat Innovation Fund, a £200 million fund to grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate, enabling it to better meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment in England and Wales. 

The Innovation in Water Challenge is the first being run this year within Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund, as part of the regulator’s goal to create an innovative and collaborative water sector that is well-placed to meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment in the years to come. 

Run by Ofwat in partnership with Nesta Challenges, Arup and Isle Utilities, the Innovation in Water Challenge is the first in a series of competitions funded through Ofwat’s Innovation Fund that aims to create new collaborations in the water sector so it can meet the needs of society and the environment in England and Wales.

Ideas from outside the water sector are actively encouraged. Collaborative bids must be submitted by the lead water company or an NAV and partner organisations can be either within or outside the water sector, for example academia, start-ups, or small businesses across sectors such as energy, manufacturing, health or financial services all over the world.

Each winning partnership will receive between £50,000 and £250,000 to support, kick-start, grow or scale their initiatives.

Entries are open for six weeks from 18 January and close at 12 noon (GMT) on 26 February 2021.

Ofwat, the Water Services Regulation Authority for England and Wales, 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 in England and Wales.

From 2021, we will be launching two competitions that water companies, in partnerships with others, can enter with their innovations.

  • A £2 million Innovation in Water Challenge (IWC) with opportunity to win funding up to £250,000. The first round of the IWC will open on 18 January 2021. The entry period lasts six weeks, closing at 12 noon (GMT) on 26 February 2021.
  • A £40 million main competition. The first round will open for entries in Spring 2021. More details will be available from early 2021.

You can find out details about each competition on their dedicated pages. We expect different rounds of the competitions to run until 2025, but our goal is that the Innovation Fund’s impact will continue well beyond this.

The Fund will be focused on funding initiatives in line with aims of the fund, that deliver innovation in line with the five strategic innovation themes.

The Fund will be delivered by Nesta Challenges, supported by Arup and Isle Utilities. You can read more about the delivery partners on the dedicated page. We are currently establishing an advisory panel who will advise Ofwat and the delivery team for future rounds of the competitions.

Timeline (click and drag items to the right to view more)

18 Jan 2021

Open to entries

26 Feb 2021

Deadline to enter

March 2021

Judges select entries to receive funding

April 2021

Winners announced

How to apply

When you’re ready to enter, please submit your entry via the online entry form.

Questions in the form are laid out in the Entrant Handbook. 

If you need to find a partner to enter, please head over to the Find a Partner page for latest updates on Partnership Brokerage events, and how to get in touch with potential partners.

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