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'From research to practice: innovation pathways for water technologies,' by Dr Jo Burgess

Dr Jo Burgess opened the WIRC Water Colloquia series, 2020-21, with a presentation on 15th October 2020. A Q&A session followed.



The World Economic Forum has, every year for the past five years, placed water among the top five risks to society and the global economy. As a commodity, water is irreplaceable and yet it is also infinitely renewable, which means that for as long as we need to drink clean water and clean dirty water, there will be opportunities worldwide for water technology and innovation.

The water industry is notoriously conservative, and yet owing to its truly global nature has been a relatively rapid taker-up of new solutions to meet increasingly stringent legislation and cost constraints as well as emerging challenges, such as new man-made chemicals.

The key to launching new technologies in the water sector is collaboration between the providers of those technologies, the end users, and the regulators. Using collaborative platforms, over 200 new technologies have been brought to market all over the world in the past ten years, with pre-screened technologies being presented to approximately 150 technology seekers.

How the technologies are sourced and screened, the nature of the information presented, and what happens after the introduction will form the central theme of this presentation.

About Dr Jo Burgess

Jo is an environmental scientist with around 20 years’ experience in the water, environment and wastewater sectors. She has proven experience in research and development of new technologies in the UK and internationally, having spent three years as a postdoctoral research officer at Cranfield University, six as a postdoc and then Head of Biotechnology at Rhodes University in South Africa, and ten as a research manager at the Water Research Commission of South Africa and an and adjunct professor at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) before joining Isle in January 2019.

Her research at the academic / industrial interface has been recognised through nine international awards (from organisations such as the Royal Academy of Engineers, Society of Chemical Industry and Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Medal, at Rhodes University). Her work has involved academic, public sector and private sector partners. Jo was the 2014-2016 chair of the board of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA) and remained a director of the company until 2019. She is the previous chair of the WISA Mine Water Division, and was a Fellow of the International Water Association (IWA) in 2012-2017. She is a Member of the Royal Society (RSSAf), and the founding president of the IWA / WISA South African Young Water Professionals, an organisation which now numbers its members in the thousands. Jo is an editor for the journals npj Clean Water (Nature Partner Journals), Water Science and Technology: Water Supply (IWA Publishing) and Environmental Technology Reviews (Taylor & Francis).

'From research to practice: innovation pathways for water technologies,' by Dr Jo Burgess


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