Water Breakthrough Challenge 3 to launch in October

Ofwat has announced the Water Breakthrough Challenge 3 (Breakthrough 3) will launch on 3 October 2022 and will retain the two streams from Breakthrough 2.

The £8 million Catalyst Stream will allow entries seeking between £500,000 and £2 million.

The £30 million Transform Stream will allow entries seeking between £2-10 million (with Ofwat exploring the option to allow bids over £10 million).

Entries will open at 12 noon BST on Monday 3 October 2022.

Both streams maintain a requirement for 10% financial contribution, and require lead entrants to be a water company in England or Wales, however lead entrants to the Catalyst stream will be able to devolve project management responsibilities (including drafting the entry) to their partners.

Following a trial in the Catalyst stream of Breakthrough 2background intellectual property rights (IPR) for entries to either stream can now be licensed, however any foreground IPR developed through the competition must be shared with water companies in England and Wales.

Following overwhelming support in the consultation, the new open access competition will launch in early 2023. Unlike the Water Breakthrough Challenge, there will be no requirement for organisations to partner or receive sponsorship from a water company to enter the competition.  

It will primarily target early-stage innovation, allocating approximately £4 million in funding annually, with up to £500,000 available for individual entries, and there will be no mandatory 10% financial contribution, or requirement to license IPR.

As with other entrants to the Innovation Fund, entries to the new open access competition will need to align with one or more of Ofwat’s four innovation themes:

  1. Adapting to climate change and achieving net zero emissions
  2. Protecting and enhancing the environment
  3. Delivering long-term operational resilience
  4. Improving the delivery of services for customers and society



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