Six new partners selected for United Utilities Innovation Lab 5

New ideas to save water and energy, generate renewable energy and develop sustainable concrete have all been selected for further development in United Utilities’ latest Innovation Lab.

The UK water company has announced the six winners of its highly respected global hunt for innovations to transform the water sector. This is hard-won and comes after an extensive search from over 600 suppliers. These winning ideas will now be developed during the next 14 weeks in partnership with United Utilities, giving the innovators unrivalled access to the company’s expertise, processes, data and resources to help co-develop and enhance their products.

Four of the six winners are from the UK, alongside companies from Sweden and Canada; in addition, five are new to the UK water sector.

United Utilities’ idea development programme is run in conjunction with L Marks and has successfully launched new suppliers and new innovations into the water market since it began in 2017. So far, United Utilities has awarded long term contracts with eight suppliers and created forty-five new jobs, many of them in the North West.

United Utilities Head of Innovation Kieran Brocklebank
United Utilities Head of Innovation Kieran Brocklebank

United Utilities Head of Innovation Kieran Brocklebank said:

“We’re now in our fifth lab programme and once again we have all been incredibly impressed by the brilliance of the ideas and early concepts that come our way from all over the world.  Our success from previous labs means that all companies have potential to grow their business and work with us for many years to come. In addition we will promote these ideas across the sector to other water companies globally.

“We searched high and low for solutions to deliver environmental and efficiency benefits and ensure we deliver the best value for our customers. We’re really looking forward to partnering with all the chosen suppliers and co-creating with them for the benefit of everyone in the water sector.”

The six winning suppliers will test their products and have sector-wide potential to help to reduce risk of leakage and flooding, reduce carbon footprints and save water:

  • Atmos International from Manchester has been working in the oil, gas and chemical industries since 1995 and will now work with United Utilities to test and develop pipeline technologies for better performance and monitoring of water and waste pipes, including leakage detection.
  • Aqua Robur Technologies from Sweden provides monitoring solutions for water distribution and sewer networks, including an energy harvester which uses the water flow as the only energy source. They are one of the few companies in the world that can deliver real-time data from all parts of the network, even where there is no access to electricity of fixed data communication.
  • Graphene Green Concrete, based at the University of Manchester, is a sustainable concrete material which adds a tiny amount of graphene admixture, to enable recycled aggregates from demolished concrete constructions to be reused on the same site in new construction without compromising on cost and performance of the construction. It uses 100% recycled aggregates and has comparable properties as traditional concrete.
  • Maid Labs Technologies from Canada provides innovative high quality flow meter and diagnostic products, which allow real-time diagnostics to save time, energy and money to increase the efficiency of wastewater pump stations.
  • Save Water Save Money from Banbury bring a potential solution to leaking toilets that use too much water. Through the Innovation Lab they will develop a universal leak-free fix to tackle leaky toilets in residential and commercial properties.
  • Bluemethane from London is developing technology to capture methane from water, as a new source of power and revenue. This will permanently remove methane from water, reduce global warming and support the energy transition by unlocking a new source of bio-methane.

These six companies will now spend 14 intensive weeks with United Utilities before presenting their final products at a demonstration day in February. After that, they will agree the best relationship for the long term.

Aberdeenshire firm Altitude Thinking took part in Innovation Lab 4 and developed its use of drones to access difficult to reach assets – including rapid water quality sampling. Success through the Lab led to a contract leading to the UK’s first accredited process for water quality sampling using drones.

Another UK company FIDO Tech took part in Innovation Lab 2 and its leakage detection solutions are now up and running at United Utilities and also being used around the world. United Utilities is also still working with three companies from Lab 3 in 2020.

For more information about the programme, visit https://www.unitedutilities.com/innovation.

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