Spring launches enhanced catchment monitoring innovation challenge

Spring, the centre of excellence for the UK and Ireland water sector, has launched its third innovation accelerator challenge and is calling for innovators from all backgrounds to apply.

The Spring Accelerator 3 focuses on the theme of protecting and enhancing natural systems. Asking the question, ‘How can we enhance and integrate our catchment monitoring capabilities to better protect source water health and the environment?’, the challenge aims to identify solutions that bridge gaps in enhanced catchment monitoring.

Thomas Walker, senior innovation manager for Spring explains:

“Spring Accelerator 3 is looking for innovative solutions to help us understand, monitor and act on the challenges and opportunities in raw water sources and their surrounding land to better protect source water health.

“Safeguarding water bodies is a crucial part of the sector’s efforts to protect the natural environment. As such, our focus will be on implementable innovative solutions for water companies to trial, progress and adopt as a collaborative group.

“Being able to showcase solutions to multiple water companies presents a huge opportunity for innovators, one which may help move their innovations towards market-readiness. We hope to see solutions that provide integrated insights and forecasting abilities, augmenting the capabilities of water utility decision-makers.

“Data collection will be one element, but the capability to analyse and action the data is also of high importance.”

The Spring Accelerator 3 was set during an ambition surgery in January 2024, when attendees outlined the issues they faced with catchment monitoring.

Walker said: “The surgery told us that while multiple tools exist for water companies to monitor catchment water quality, there are few available which map and model a whole catchment as one system.

“Additionally, there can be issues with data-sharing – multiple sources of information are often within systems that are incapable of communicating with each other. As a result, there is a lack of data-driven decision-making.

“We know water utilities would like the ability to use data to forecast how a catchment will behave in the future and notify them of likely events, so they can respond proactively.”

The Spring Accelerator 3, sponsored by ECAS – Environmental Compliance & Services, is open to all innovators. Applicants may be individuals, businesses or a partnership between the two. Innovators can be based anywhere in the world and priority will be given to solutions not previously trialled in the UK and Ireland.

The aim of the Spring Accelerator is to identify implementable innovations that help address a substantial need in the UK and Ireland water sector. The Accelerator challenges are aligned with themes within the 2050 UK Water Innovation Strategy (WIS2050) and focus on bringing the right people together to drive forward the adoption of solutions.

Successful innovators can expect to have their ideas seen by the experts in the UK and Ireland water industry and are guaranteed feedback on their solutions. The accelerator does not offer a direct financial reward – the goal is to facilitate collaboration, resulting in successful applicants’ solutions being mobilised with one or more water companies.

As the custodian of the WIS2050, Spring facilitates the accelerator challenges by bringing successful applicants and water companies together and enables cross-sector knowledge sharing.

The deadline for Spring Accelerator 3 submission is 9 April 2024. Finalists will be notified by 13 May 2024 and invited to a Spring Innovation Exchange later in 2024 to explore the solution with water companies in more detail. Selected innovators will then move on to trial mobilisation with multiple water company partners.

For more details about Spring Accelerator 3 and to apply visit https://spring-innovation.co.uk/spring-accelerator-3/.

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