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Few water company leaders would have predicted the circumstances that surround the start of AMP7. The challenge of meeting future demands in an affordable and sustainable way seemed difficult enough – before Covid–19 changed “business as usual” for us all.

Only time will tell us what the true impact is – operationally and economically – but one thing is clear: innovation has never been more important. Challenging times require creative and innovative solutions, and so maybe there is no better time than now to launch a new approach to sector wide innovation. As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.”

The water industry has a history of innovation, successfully tackling local issues and delivering excellent results for their communities. Indeed, CGI is proud to have been involved with some of these initiatives, bringing to bear our digital skills and developing new solutions. We believe that Ofwat’s new initiative could bring about a step change in collaboration across the sector. Water companies, large and small, will be working together with supply chain partners and other stakeholder groups to solve the sector’s biggest challenges by pulling together resources and creativity.

This collaborative approach has been demonstrated in the Energy sector, where Ofgem’s various innovation funding initiatives have already been running for a decade. CGI has been a participant in a number of consortia, partnering with the Britain’s Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), and with stakeholder organisations across the value chain, successfully devising, developing and deploying innovative technology and processes.

For the energy industry, it was clear there was a fundamental change to the dynamics of the system, coming with the transition of the system to one of zero carbon. The challenge of achieving this was simply not possible without significant innovation.

Which of the water industry’s big challenges will prove the most compelling in terms of driving transformative innovation? £200M of customers’ money is a big sum bringing a huge opportunity for the industry to address some of its strategic challenges. Is it enough and will it succeed? Only time will tell!

To find out more about Ofwat’s innovation competition fund and how the water industry has responded, download CGI and Utility Week new insight report: “Grasping the opportunity: can water companies harness Ofwat’s £200 million innovation fund to transform the sector?” featuring interviews with water companies’ CEOs, the regulator Ofwat and other industry stakeholders.

Ofwat’s innovation fund for the water sector

For more information, get in touch with Stuart Brand.

Find out more about CGI and innovation in the Water Sector.

About this author

Stuart Brand

Stuart Brand

Vice President Consulting Services - Water and Market Services

Stuart Brand is CGI’s Vice President responsible for leading the company’s activity in the UK Water sector, and for clients who provide central market services to Utilities.

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