CIWEM president Niki Roach named as judge on Ofwat Innovation Fund’s Water Breakthrough Challenge

CIWEM president Niki Roach has today been named as one of the judges on the main competition of Ofwat’s Innovation Fund – the Water Breakthrough Challenge.

The second competition supported by the Fund ‘aims to spark ambitious innovation and enable new approaches and ways of working’ to address some of biggest challenges in the water sector, with the aim of creating lasting benefits for ‘customers, society and the environment across England and Wales’.

Individual entries to the Breakthrough Challenge can bid for between £1 million to £10 million from the Innovation Fund (which has a total of £40 million). Ofwat is also open to bids of smaller value from smaller water companies.

On her place on the judging panel Roach said:

“I'm delighted to be a part of the Judging Panel for this first round of Ofwat's Water Breakthrough Challenge. Bringing new approaches is key to tackling some of our trickiest problems across both the water sector and our environment. I'm excited to see the breadth of submissions and to hear how each entry will be able to demonstrate that customer's money would be spent well whilst also being bold and not being afraid to fail.

“Our sector needs to encourage diverse thinking and new voices to join the conversation and I hope that the Water Breakthrough Challenge provides an opportunity to do just that."

The eight-member judging panel who bring a wealth of experience across industry, academia, policy development and research, consumer representation and engineering – is completed by the following judges:

  • Paul Connell – Founder, Open Data Institute Leeds
  • Tony Conway – Visiting Professor, University of Sheffield and Director, British Water
  • Sharon Darcy – Director, Sustainability First
  • Paul O'Callaghan – Founder & CEO, BlueTechResearch
  • Frank Rogalla – Director of innovation and technology, Aqualia(Spain)
  • Anusha Shah – Director (Resilient Cities), Arcadis
  • Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, Executive Director, International Water Association

Director (Resilient Cities) at Arcadis and chair of the judging panel Anusha Shah added:

“It’s an honour to be chairing the judging panel. Speaking on behalf of my fellow judges, we are all looking forward to reviewing and assessing the entries.

Complex dilemmas such as how to respond to the climate and nature emergency and ensuring customer voices are heard mean that the water sector has decisions to make: the sector can make a positive decision to drive bold solutions by thinking outside the box, driving behavioural change and embracing cross-sector collaboration.

“The Water Breakthrough Challenge typifies this positive approach and I am thrilled to be involved.”

The winners of the Water Breakthrough Challenge will be announced in September 2021. Successful entries will receive up to £10 million.

Read more on Ofwat: CIWEM’s Alastair Chisholm gives his verdict on government's draft strategic priorities for Ofwat

Read more from Niki: CIWEM President’s Blog – Female Fellowship

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