Ofwat (the economic regulator of the water industry in the UK) has established a £200 million Innovation Fund to grow the water sector’s capa...

Ofwat (the economic regulator of the water industry in the UK) has established a £200 million Innovation Fund to grow the water sector’s capa...Ofwat (the economic regulator of the water industry in the UK) 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. From 2021, Nesta, Isle and Arup will be running at least two rounds of the following competitions that water companies, in partnership with others, can enter with their innovations:

the Innovation in Water Challenges (IWC), which aim to encourage new ways of working and improve collaboration and partnerships from within and outside the water sector. Ofwat will be running two IWCs in 2021, with more information on the second round to be published at a later date. The first IWC will comprise a £2 million fund.
A £40 million Main Competition, which will allow water companies the opportunity to put forward bids for larger projects. More information on the Main Competition will be available in the first quarter of 2021.
When are the deadlines and what can I win?
The first round of the Innovation in Water Challenge (IWC) will open for entries led by water companies on 18 January 2021. The deadline for entries will be 12 noon (GMT) on 26 February 2021. The judges will convene in March 2021 to recommend which projects should receive funding, and winners will be informed by April 2021.


Each winning entry will receive a share of the £2 million fund, with prizes ranging from £50,000 to £250,000 per entry. In exceptional circumstances, the judging panel may choose to award more than £2 million from the Innovation Fund.
How can I enter?
Partnerships need to be formed between innovators (including new start-ups, SMEs, and supply chain partners, among others) and lead applicants to enter the competition. The lead applicant needs to be one of the 17 licensed regional water and wastewater companies or new entrant water and wastewater companies (NAVs) in England and Wales.

If you already have working relationships with any of these 17 licensed water and wastewater companies or NAVs, we strongly advise you to get in contact with them to explore potential partnerships.

If you don’t have any prior relationship with those companies, there are 2 different ways in which you can explore a potential partnership (plus also see below for brokerage sessions):
Email contact@waterinnovation2050.org.uk, which is a central inbox managed by an alliance of 19 UK water companies.
Email one of the 17 licensed water and wastewater companies or NAVs directly (contact details can be found here)

Brokerage Sessions
Register interest for the brokerage events which will be organised by Isle in January 2021. The brokerage events will provide an opportunity for water companies and other organisations to explore new partnerships. They will be held on:
11 January 2021 4 pm (GMT)
12 January 2021 4 pm (GMT)
18 January 2021 12 noon (GMT)
In order to register your interest in joining one of these brokerage events please email waterinnovation@nesta.org.uk.
You will be asked to fill in a short questionnaire in order to be matched with interested water companies.

How can I know more?
Please visit Ofwat’s dedicated website for more information around the IWC. There, you will also be able to subscribe to receive updates about the IWC.