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Water regulator Ofwat calls on fintech and digital sectors for new Innovation Fund

Ofwat, England and Wales’ water regulator, has £120m available for fintech and digital sectors with innovative solutions to water challenges.

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After a year-long pilot with more than £43m awarded to innovation in the water sector, Ofwat is launching a new consultation.

The water regulator for England and Wales is looking to build on the momentum of the £200m Water Innovation Fund by looking to a diverse range of sectors for their views.

With more than £120m available, Ofwat is seeking to address the water sector’s biggest challenges by looking to a range of industries. 

Among others, including the space, digital and energy sectors, Ofwat is looking for input from the retail banking and fintech sectors.

The regulator has already generated multi-sector partnerships through a series of competitions, including the Innovation in Water Challenge and two Water Breakthrough Challenges run by Nesta Challenges.

So far, the challenges have generated innovative solutions from water companies and their partners to address the challenges of net-zero, environmental impact and improving consumer services.

Now Ofwat is looking to diversify its input even further by casting a wider net of opinions and ideas.

Designed to “drive long-lasting change and innovation to the sector”, winners of the Water Innovation Fund have included partnerships to provide data on water quality and new engineering solutions.

Ofwat is now proposing a third Water Breakthrough Challenge this autumn, with further competitions planned for 2023 and beyond to bring new insights into some of the water sector’s biggest challenges.

Going forward, Ofwat wants to consider changes that will enable the fund to support more early-stage ideas in order to allow innovators to have greater access to the fund.

The main proposed changes are to open a new annual £4m competition for early-stage ideas from innovators both in and out of the water industry.

It also aims to maintain an annual flagship competition, Water Breakthrough Challenge, with Catalys (entries between £250,000 and £1m) and Transform (entries between £1m and £10m) streams.

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