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Fair Water

Newcastle teams up with industry partners for water sector innovation

Published on: 1 October 2021

Newcastle University and industry partners have been given the backing to launch a new project that will see customer bills and carbon emissions reduced by December 2025.

The project, called ‘Fair Water’, has been chosen as one of the winners in Ofwat’s £36million Water Innovation Challenge and has been awarded £3.8m of funding to get started.

Northumbrian Water leads the project and will be working alongside partners at Newcastle University, National Energy Action, Procter & Gamble and Northern Gas Networks to reduce water use and energy emissions for customers significantly within the next four years helping to bring payments down for billpayers.

The water company say that addressing water use and energy emissions with customers can be difficult, as many current solutions come at a cost and involve disruption to customers both in their homes and in their daily habits.

However, through project ‘Fair Water’ they will develop affordable solutions that work for a wide range of customers living in a variety of existing housing types, with minimal disruption to homes or habits.

This will be done by evaluating consumer products already being used, co-creating and developing new solutions, and improving behavioural change and technology-based solutions to enable customers to reduce water and energy use and carbon emissions.

Using water and energy more efficiently

The outcomes from the project will be used to benefit customers across England and Wales by enabling them to use water and energy more efficiently and therefore reducing their household bills and carbon impact.

The knowledge gained during the project will also help minimise disruption caused to customers’ homes when fitting water and energy saving products into their homes.

Boguslaw Obara, Professor of Image Informatics, Newcastle University School of Computing, said: “This is a great opportunity to bring together Newcastle University’s partners, NWG, P&G and NGN under one collaborative project partnering with NEAA that draws together different research areas which have an impact on domestic users and consumers’ daily lives.We are very excited to be able to develop our research alongside industry to help resolve and find innovative solutions for future generations."

Fiona Yip, Newcastle University Strategic Partnership Manager for NWG, P&G and NGN, said: ““It is great that we are able to bring together our key Strategic Partners to collaborate on this unique alliance focusing on this important agenda joining together the nexus on water and energy sustainability. At the same time to understand the daily tasks which we all undertake in our daily lives to change consumer behaviour and how we translate this into innovative solutions for the benefit of all.  This is only made possible through such a collaboration and drawing on the different expertise from the various sectors.”

Angela MacOscar, Head of Innovation at Northumbrian Water, added: “This unique collaboration brings knowledge, resources and connections – which are essential for the co-creation of solutions for customers.

“Along with our partners we will develop products and services that enable delivery at scale, and will also support customers, including the vulnerable and hard-to-reach, through changes that will deliver a better quality of life for them, and the outcomes that society needs.

“This will be an incredibly important project. It will not only drive us towards our net zero targets but will also help to improve the quality of life for our customers – which is why we are extremely proud that we have been granted this funding by OFWAT and Nesta.”

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat said: “Each of the winners contribute to the resilience, sustainability and effectiveness of the water sector in the years to come for the benefit of customers across the country. Thank you to the independent judging panel for its challenge and insight in recommending these impressive winners.”

Holly Jamieson, New Frontiers Director, Nesta Challenges said: “The cross-sectoral collaborations established by water companies, academia, engineering and technology sectors in response to the Water Breakthrough Challenge are hugely impressive. From turning sewage into a valuable natural resource to the smart use of open data to reduce negative environmental impacts and reduce costs for water customers, today’s funding is an exciting step for the water industry in the UK. I congratulate all of the winners and look forward to seeing them deliver their projects in the months and years to come.”

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: 

Adapted with thanks from Northumbrian Water

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