Water Breakthrough Challenge launches with £40m prize fund

Ofwat have published their PR19 review into the water industry
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Ofwat have launched their second competition of 2021 with £40 million in funding available through the Water Breakthrough Challenge.

Individual entries can bid for between £1 million and £10 million for innovative projects which can deliver benefits for customers, society and the environment.

The Water Breakthrough Challenge follows hot on the heels of last month’s Innovation in Water Challenge. 11 successful entries shared £2 million in funding between them with strong collaboration between water companies, different industries, academia, not-for-profit organisations and supply chain partners.

Ofwat has set out five areas which they want entrants to the Water Breakthrough Challenge to focus on:

  • Responding and adapting to the effects of climate change on the water industry and supplies. This includes how the sector can move towards its target of net carbon emissions by 2030.
  • Protecting the environment and the public from pollution and the impact of extreme weather events such as drought and flooding.
  • Improving operational resilience and infrastructure by discovering and adopting new technologies to detect leaks and carry out emergency pipe repairs.
  • Testing new ways of conducting business which can deliver better value for customers.
  • Exploring how open data and collaboration between companies can help to provide a better service, especially for customers in vulnerable circumstances.

To increase the chances of a bid being successful, Ofwat has advised projects to show:

  • Collaboration through strong partnerships between water companies, the supply chain and industries outside of water.
  • A willingness to share data, insights and ideas both within and outside the water sector.
  • Adaptability to new ways of working with the potential to deliver benefits across the industry.
  • Calculated risk through experimentation.
  • Easy scalability and deployability within the water sector.
  • A long-term perspective looking forward as far as 2050.

Bids entering the Water Breakthrough Challenge must be led by one of the 17 water companies in England and Wales. Projects cannot be funded entirely by Ofwat; at least 10 percent of the total cost of the initiative must come from other sources.

The competition will follow a two-stage process. Stage one runs from May 6th 2021 until 3rd June 2021, after which entries will be screened for eligibility and then assessed.

Successful bids will be invited to submit more information about their project for stage two of the process, lasting five weeks between June 28th 2021 and July 30th 2021.

From there, a diverse range of entries will be handed to an independent panel of judges. They will then recommend a number of projects they believe should receive funding to Ofwat, after which the regulator will make the final decision on successful entries.

The winning bids will be confirmed by the end of September and be up and running within six months of the competition closing.

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