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Anglian Water is sponsoring the Innovation Award at the Hunts Post Business Awards this evening, celebrating the best of the best from Huntingdonshire’s businesses community and the pioneering ideas driving the district’s industries. Matt Kirk, Manager of Anglian Water’s Shop Window Initiative, explains the company’s own focus on innovation.

Whatever the business or industry, the future needs new thinking and new technologies, and we want to celebrate innovation and collaboration locally through this award.

Water is a precious natural resource; vital to life, key to a sustainable and vibrant economy, and essential for a flourishing environment. It’s used for everything from drinking and growing crops to swimming and making shoes. So with a rapidly growing world population it’s no wonder that a ready supply of clean, safe drinking water is one of the most pressing global challenges of our time – and at Anglian Water, we believe challenges bring opportunities when met with innovation.

We launched our Love Every Drop strategy in 2010 to put water at the heart of a new way of living. It’s about meeting the challenges of drought, flooding, environmental protection and encouraging different behaviours to make that a reality.

To meet the challenges Love Every Drop seeks to solve we’ve embedded innovation in our day to day business. We’re exploring new ideas and technologies, and exciting things are happening all the time. Some are already paying off. For example, our work to generate even more renewable electricity from our water recycling centres has saved millions of pounds and helps keep customer bills low.

Our innovations in leakage have enabled Anglian Water to become the industry leader with the lowest level of leakage than any other water company. On top of this we’re helping customers to be more water efficient with free water meters and water saving devices; and we’ve halved the carbon we create in our construction projects – all through innovation.

All of these create greater efficiencies and are some of the ways we’re able to keep bills down and deliver an even better service for our customers.

We’ve now launched a major innovation initiative in Cambridgeshire, called the Shop Window. Here we’ll be creating a view of what our company will look like in 30 years time.

It will see us research and introduce the latest technologies and thinking in the Cambridgeshire area, allowing us to put innovation into action for the benefit of our customers and the environment.

The Shop Window is one of the most exciting and revolutionary initiative in the water industry right now as innovation will be applied across the entire water cycle – from river and reservoir to the kitchen tap, and from sink to sea.

We’ll be asking how could we get to zero leaks? How could we help protect the quality of our rivers and wildlife without more treatment and chemicals that are expensive for customer bills? How do we prevent floods?

These aren’t easy questions to solve, but we’re working hard to get there.

Everything we do and strive for is focussed on supporting the communities we serve and grounded in what our customers told us is important to them. We consulted with 50,000 people from across our region to shape our business plan for 2010-2015, and we will invite customers to help shape the future business again as we move forward.

We’re already working with local businesses to provide them with an opportunity to showcase to the water industry what they have to offer, and in turn help them grow their businesses.

Whatever the business or industry, the future needs new thinking and new technologies, and we want to celebrate innovation and collaboration locally through this award.