Ofwat Breakthrough Challenge success

30 September 2021


Anglian Water is celebrating today following the announcement that both projects it submitted to the Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge, have successfully won funding. The two projects will be led by Anglian Water with a consortium of partners including fellow UK water companies.


The Water Breakthrough Challenge contributes to water regulator Ofwat’s goal of creating an innovative and collaborative water sector that can meet the needs of customers, society, and the environment into the future. The Challenge funds initiatives that water companies would otherwise be unable to invest in or explore. 


The two successful projects submitted by Anglian Water are named Safe Smart Systems and Triple Carbon Reduction. The project involve:


Safe Smart Systems

·       Anglian Water and its partners Jacobs, Skanska, Imperial College, Airbus Defence and Space, Microsoft and the University of Sheffield, and fellow water companies South West Water, Portsmouth Water and Affinity Water, have won £7.5 million in Ofwat’s first Water Breakthrough Challenge to use artificial intelligence and mathematical optimisation to improve long-term operational resilience in the face of climate change and rapid population growth. It will identify, predict, and manage vulnerabilities to reduce leakage, interruptions, and pressure issues across the whole water cycle. Safe Smart Systems focuses on the first steps to achieve autonomous control in water systems across the UK.


Fionn Boyle, Shop Window Manager, Anglian Water, said: “This funding will enable us to deliver a step change in water sector collaboration on present and future resilience challenges. By embracing smart solutions, we can predict, manage, and ultimately prevent leaks, supply interruptions and pressure issues in a more joined-up way than has ever been possible before, protecting our environment and enhancing customer experience.”


Bruce Chalmers, Vice President & Head of Sector, Water Energy & Environment, Jacobs, said: “The Safe Smart Systems project provides a unique opportunity to design and implement a future-proof step change in ways of working and technology across the whole water lifecycle. Together with our partners, we hope to bring transformational change to the water sector, both nationally and globally.”


Triple Carbon Reduction

·       Anglian Water’s Triple Carbon Reduction solution, delivered in partnership with OxyMem, Element Energy Ltd, Jacobs, Cranfield University, University of East Anglia, Brunel University,Severn Trent Water, Scottish Water, Northern Ireland Water and United Utilities, has been awarded more than £3.5 million. It will use novel technologies to target a step change reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use in used water treatment and provide a new renewable energy source through green hydrogen production – 'triple carbon' synergy and contribution towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.


Adam Brookes, Manager of Innovation Discovery, Anglian Water, said: “Funding for this project will greatly support the delivery of our own net zero routemap and the water sector's drive to Net Zero by 2030, filling a significant missing piece in the challenge. By collaborating with academia, businesses and other water companies, our project creates an elegant solution to eliminate part of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with wastewater treatment and position the sector within the developing hydrogen landscape, in line with the newly launched UK Government Hydrogen strategy.”


Amanda Lake, Water Process Lead, Jacobs Europe, said: “We’re excited to couple an innovative pure MaBR treatment solution with green hydrogen production. We know the outcomes could be significant for the water sector - lower nitrous oxide process emissions, a role in the green hydrogen economy, valuable resource recovery and application of best practice life cycle assessment methods. What a valuable chance to work together to open the door to the lower carbon, circular economy water sector we urgently require.”


Entries to the Water Breakthrough Challenge were encouraged from water companies in England and Wales in partnerships with organisations in and outside the water sector, including universities and institutes, retailers, start-ups, or small businesses in sectors such as energy, manufacturing, health, or financial services.


A second Water Breakthrough Challenge will open for entries on 11 October 2021 to provide funding for further innovative water sector initiatives.  Up to £35 million will be available to be shared between entries that deliver benefits for water customers, society and the environment.


New innovation challenges will be announced through to 2025, however Ofwat’s goal is that the Innovation Fund’s impact will be felt well beyond this. To find out more about the winners, and find out how to enter the second Water Breakthrough Challenge from Ofwat, Nesta Challenges and Arup, visit: waterinnovation.challenges.org