A global initiative to create the utility company of tomorrow took a significant step forward as Peter Simpson, Anglian Water’s Chief Executive and the driving force behind the programme, called on more companies from around the world to step up to a new set of challenges.
Speaking on ‘Uninvented Technologies’ at the Global Water Summit in London, Peter revealed that 114 partners had already delivered 110 projects within the company’s innovation hub, centred around Newmarket, in Suffolk, since its inception in 2017.
Known as the ‘Shop Window’, the project is the innovation powerhouse behind Anglian Water’s ‘Love Every Drop’ strategy. An industry first, it aims is to create the water company of the future, today. It goes beyond trialling and showcasing the latest technology by ensuring a clear path to adoption for successful initiatives. Built on the principles of Open Innovation, all challenges are shared, organisations collaborate on proposed responses, with the outcome and any results also made public.
Using the example of resource efficiency, Peter highlighted how immediate and sustained results have already been achieved in and around the town.
“Having fitted leak detection equipment that isn’t being used anywhere else on the planet, leakage is down 23%,” Peter said. “That’s almost 350,000 litres of water saved, every single day.
“And when customers hear we’re taking action, they do too. We’ve fitted more than six thousand smart meters in the town, and engaged with customers in ways we’ve never tried before. The result is water demand has dropped by about six per cent. That’s saving a further 80,000 litres every day. What’s most impressive is that this drop in use is sustained, even through last summer’s warm weather.
“We don’t think this is a blip. Customer positivity is up significantly, and we’re seeing long-term changes in behaviour. This combination is exactly what we need to answer the challenges of a growing population and a changing climate.”
Peter used the platform to call for more companies to join the programme both within the Shop Window, and by making use of the Leading Utilities of the World network, of which Anglian Water is a member. He claimed the current list of 114 partners working within the Shop Window was “just the tip of the iceberg”.
“A changing climate and growing populations are driving a need for long term resilience, planning and innovative thinking, and these are challenges the world over. They simply cannot be solved in isolation. No one organisation has the ability or the resource to solve these complex issues alone and there is a need to innovate both openly and collaboratively.”
“At Anglian, we firmly believe in bringing the best people together to share, innovate and collaborate, which makes projects like the Shop Window an incredibly exciting opportunity.
“We welcome any supplier or partner to come and talk to us about what we could achieve together.”
The forward-thinking and dynamic ethos behind the Shop Window means Anglian Water is able to give opportunities to small start ups who need real-world conditions to test the viability of their products – products that could ultimately change the future of the water sector, and how it works.
Peter continued: “The need for innovation is ever present. It is no longer an option or a buzzword, it is an absolute obligation.”