I have been part of the steering group to deliver Spring for Ofwat and the UK water utility sector - since July we have been recruiting funding partners, developing the concept and mechanisms of Spring, and getting the online presence up and running. Spring launched in Phase 1 in December 2021, and we are now working to enhance and expand the services and support that Spring will provide.

Spring will operate as an innovation incubator, delivering funding opportunities and innovation challenges, running communities of knowledge, and supporting partnership brokerage. It will also support the translation of research through innovation to adoption through funding opportunities, access to testbeds and networks, knowledge transfer, and innovation mentoring. The last phase of development will involve the development of an open data platform and skills and training.

To help deliver this, Spring is hosting seven topic focussed communities, linked to the Water Innovation 2050 Strategy produced by Water UK, comprising researchers, innovators, supply chain companies, and the end user water utilities. These communities are:

  • Achieving net zero carbon
  • Enabling diverse future-ready people
  • Providing clean water for all
  • Whole life and responsible consumption
  • Providing the services society needs
  • Delivering resilient infrastructure systems
  • Protecting and enhancing natural systems

During the first year Spring will run two theme-lead challenges in the first six months of operation and then run challenges more frequently as it evolves. The first challenge will focus on Net Zero solutions for water, as voted for by the Spring community - this challenge will launch in February 2022. The second challenge will be an open call for innovation, allowing a broader range of ideas to be submitted.

You can find the Spring website here and follow the login steps to set up a personal profile. Once you have registered on the Spring platform, you will be asked to select which themes you would like to follow. When challenges are live under that theme you will be notified and asked whether you would like to submit ideas and solutions to be collectively reviewed by the utilities who have opted into the challenge.

I hope that you can see that Spring presents a unique and exciting opportunity to promote your own research work, to make new contacts, to find new collaborative partners for the co-development of project proposals, to access new funding streams, and to enhance the translation of your research and innovation into industry practice and application. I would therefore strongly encourage everybody working on projects in or related to water systems to set up a personal profile and engage with Spring and hence the wider water stakeholder community.

Please ensure that you mention the Water Innovation & Research Centre at the University of Bath in your profile.