Spring has started its second year of operation with water company funding secured until 2025 and a new team in place, making it ready to scale the value it is delivering for the sector throughout 2023 and beyond.

Having launched in December 2021, with the aim of delivering the ambitions of the 2050 Water Innovation Strategy, the innovation Centre of Excellence for the UK & Ireland water sector has already achieved many successes which it will build on in 2023.

What has been delivered?

Spring has run two Accelerator Challenges, the purpose of which is to introduce supply chain innovators to collaborations of water companies who are eager to progress solutions. Spring Accelerator 1, in partnership with Isle Utilities, called for innovations to reduce carbon emissions and attracted 17 entries, resulting in 3 trials moving forwards. With the support of Spring, the innovations are now in the process of securing funding and mobilising work. If you want to know a little more, please take a look here.

Spring Accelerator 2, in partnership with Innovate UK KTN, called for solutions to monitor the condition of electro-mechanical assets in changing environments and received 38 submissions. Using Innovate UK KTN’s extensive network generated an increase in submissions from new entrants to the sector, with 6 of the 8 innovators reaching pitch day coming from out of the sector. Spring is now facilitating which innovations will move forward to a trial. More information about the challenge here.

The Spring Knowledge Transfer offering is growing from strength to strength. There are 40 case studies on the platform for the sector to learn from and 4 deep dive showcases have attracted over 800 registrations, with attendance not only from all UK & Ireland water companies but utilities across the globe. There will be monthly showcases going forward for the sector to share and accelerate learning. Are you a supplier who has worked with a water company on an innovative project? Would you like to share your knowledge and gain exposure? Find out how to get involved here.

Spring is collaborating with Microsoft and Impact X on a new initiative to make tools and funding available for start-ups to accelerate their companies. The Impact X-Venture Studio has been launched by Microsoft and Impact X, a venture capital firm founded to support underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe. Sustainability is a key focus and Spring is focusing the studio on the priority ambitions in the Water Innovation Strategy 2050 and the partnership aims to unlock the potential of tech start-ups at scale and ensure fairer representation of minority groups in the start-up space. If you want to know more on how to get involved, you can read more here.

How is the funding challenge coming along?

Spring is a not-for-profit organisation that has received funding from Ofwat’s Innovation Fund, the UK & Ireland water companies and supply chain. The service offering has been designed by the sector for the sector and the ambition is to create value for both water companies and supply chain, with benefits being passed on to the end customer.

In 2022, Spring secured £1.75m in funding from water companies for the period of April 23 – March 25 and is working with water companies to embed Spring into PR24 plans.

Whilst the focus over the last 6 months has been on securing investment from the water companies, the team is now refocusing efforts to ensure value is delivered to the supply chain and fees for services can be introduced confidently knowing those services are solving challenges faced by the supply chain.To support this ambition there will be an amplification of communications, a rethink of supply chain representation on the Spring Board, and a refresh of the service offering.

Introducing the newly appointed Spring Team

It is exciting times for the Spring team! Working alongside Managing Director Carly Perry is a team of 4 new starters bringing both sector and non-sector innovation experience. The team now includes:

  • Ben Hatfield-Wright, Programme Manager– Ben joins following 18 years at Anglian Water and brings a wealth of knowledge from managing large-scale programmes within the sector. Ben is supporting Carly in refining and scaling operations and setting a trajectory for growth in 2023 and beyond.
  • Imelda Fossu, Comms and Engagement Manager– With a background in start-ups and tech accelerators, Imelda is leading the Knowledge Transfer Service including the delivery of online showcases and the Knowledge Transfer Library. She will also lead the ongoing comms, stakeholder management and engagement with the sector.
  • David Wright, Innovation Manager– An experienced innovation manager, David joins from the Space Applications Catapult and will support the facilitation of Spring’s innovation challenges, helping to develop successful collaborations and make it easier for suppliers to enter the sector.

Carly says, “We are proud of what Spring has achieved in its first year. It has been a challenging year with some highs and lows but where we are now has been made possible by those who have supported us either financially, with resource or with strategic steer.

We are grateful for this continued support and for the high levels of engagement we see from the water sector and beyond.

“There is still a lot to do and we are committed to working with the whole sector to ensure Spring is delivering, not just for water companies, but for all.

We have many exciting plans for 2023 and now that Spring has a team behind the vision it will focus on scaling the successes of the knowledge transfer offering, building the pipeline of collaborative innovations and breaking down the barriers of mobilisation and scaling in the sector. On a personal note, I am also looking forward to getting out to more events in 2023 and listening to the needs of innovators. Keep an eye out for me and come and share your innovation story”

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