Ofwat have established a £200 million innovation fund available from January 2021 until 2025 to encourage transformative change in the water sector England and Wales around 5 themes:
- Responding and adapting to climate change and delivering net zero emissions for the water sector.
- Restoring and improving the ecological status of our waterways and protecting customers from pollution.
- Operational and infrastructure resilience.
- Testing new ways of conducting core activities to deliver wider public value.
- Exploring opportunities associated with open data, stimulating innovation and collaboration and encouraging new business models that benefit customers (particularly those in vulnerable circumstances).
The innovation fund can be directly accessed by the 17 licenced water and wastewater companies and new entrant water and wastewater companies (NAVs). Third parties, including academic institutes, can access the fund through collaborative bids with the water companies.
The funding will be split into two mechanisms:
- A £2 million innovation in water challenge for small projects up to £250k. The purpose here is to act as a pilot to encourage collaboration and partnerships with third parties including academia. The first round will open for entries from January 2021.
- A £40 million main competition. The purpose here is larger strategic projects and supporting activities with third parties in collaboration with the water companies being eligible. The first round will open for entries from April 2021.
Details of the competition can be found here.