Innovation Exchanges are the new ‘buzz words’ circling the water companies and it is changing the way we work with them to help find solutions to real-time problems.
For years suppliers with new product innovations have tried fairly unsuccessfully to bring on board the water companies at the research and development stage but this is all changing. Water Companies realise that by assisting in R&D products they get ahead of the game in delivering innovative, usually cost reductive products.
Innovation Exchanges are a brilliant, cost effective way to engage directly with water companies and other innovators. Similar to a ‘Dragons Den’ approach, as a presenter you can pitch your product to a group of willing listeners. We have participated in two such events, hosted by British Water for Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and United Utilities.
Split into two groups, we were given 10 minutes to pitch our innovation which isn’t very long when you want to explain why your innovation is SO amazing. We were presenting our Aerated Reed Beds. - a technological enhancement on the more traditional passive reed bed treatment systems. With tighter discharge consents to meet and greater volumes of wastewater to treat, aerated reed bed systems increase the treatment capabilities of reed beds and significantly reduces the land footprint required – which of course makes them cheaper to install.
Innovation Exchanges are intense, short-sharp bursts of ideas and new products but alarmingly effective. Delivering a full-blown pitch in 10 minutes is a talent in itself but then with just two minutes to answer questions it makes sure you get to the point – quick. Problem, solution and cost-benefits all in 12 minutes –innovation at its best. We had an advantage over many of our fellow innovators as we have installed new aerated reed bed systems and retrofitted aeration into existing reed beds for other clients and so we came armed with case studies and data.
Saying that, when all the presentations were over we all waited for the killer blow – were they interested in the product or not? Water companies whilst not brutal in their assessment are honest in their feedback. Whilst some were told that their products were not going to be given any further consideration – our presentation was of interest to all parties and we have been advised to return with more detailed presentations.
These Innovation Exchanges could be the turning point for R&D for lots of companies with great ideas who cannot commit the funds to fully explore them on their own. If the water companies can assist, even if its just allowing innovators access to their sites for trials, then all these great ideas can be moved forward.
It is thrilling to know that Innovation Exchanges can change the way we work in partnership with clients. Let’s hope this channel of communication does not dry up anytime soon. We are elated that the water companies are opened to new possibilities and that Aerated Reed Beds are on the agenda.
If you haven’t been to one and have a great innovative product for the water companies, don’t be put off, do your research and prepare for information overload. There are several Innovation Exchanges taking place throughout the year, more information can be found on the British Water Website.
You can download an information sheet on our aerated reed beds here