Spring, a key player in driving innovation within the water sector, has recently unveiled an enhanced innovation accelerator as part of its extended initiative to streamline and expedite trials in the industry. This ambitious venture is aimed at dismantling barriers to swift trial mobilization and fostering collaboration to meet the objectives outlined in the 2050 Water Innovation Strategy. The newly introduced Spring Accelerator seeks implementable innovations for water companies to trial, progress, and adopt collaboratively, with a focus on accelerating innovation delivery.
The revamped Spring Accelerator, built upon the original model, introduces a four-step end-to-end process to enhance cross-sector alignment and mitigate trial duplication, ultimately striving for accelerated innovation implementation. The inaugural program under this new approach, Spring Accelerator 3, is set to commence in January 2024, concentrating on the third theme of the 2050 Water Innovation Strategy – Protecting and Enhancing Natural Systems. Comprehensive details about the initiative can be found at spring-innovation.co.uk.
In its efforts, Spring acts as a unifying force, bringing together stakeholders from academia, the supply chain, and water companies. The overarching goal is to drive better outcomes for customers, society, and the environment while fostering sustainability in the sector. Thomas Walker, Senior Innovation Manager, underscores the evolution of Spring's role since its inception, noting that despite the changing landscape and evolving needs, the imperative for pace in innovation has remained constant. The new model is designed to reflect the current needs of the sector and aims to achieve mobilization within six months.
Reflecting on past programs, Walker acknowledges the notable successes but emphasizes persistent barriers to rapid trial mobilization. The redesigned model seeks to overcome these challenges and align with the sector's contemporary needs. The collaborative approach involved extensive engagement and collaboration with stakeholders, including a sprint at the Northumbrian Innovation Festival in July 2023, where the new model was presented and tested with a diverse group of stakeholders.
The Four-Step Process Comprises:
- The Ambition Surgery: An industry-wide challenge-setting mechanism where water companies, suppliers, academia, and experts define specific challenges aligned with the Water Innovation Strategy 2050 during conference-style events.
- The Innovation Marketplace: A platform for innovators to submit solutions against the call for innovation. The streamlined application process ensures quick but thorough assessment by the right people from all participating water companies, providing detailed feedback.
- The Innovation Exchange: Sessions facilitating collaboration between water companies and selected innovators to co-design relationships, explore solutions and business models, and scope trials together. Successful sessions end with commitments from multiple water companies to trial a solution.
- Mobilization: A facilitation service to mobilize trials with multiple water companies, designed to address sector priorities, expedite successful solution adoption, and accelerate the transformation of the UK & Ireland water sector.
Walker highlights that the new accelerator model is part of a broader initiative to eliminate barriers and efficiently deliver innovation at the right pace. He expresses gratitude to all stakeholders contributing to the creation of a more efficient process for water companies and innovators. Launched in 2021, Spring has been pivotal in driving the transformation of the UK & Ireland water sector, supported by the commitment of all UK and Irish water and wastewater companies to eliminate duplication in innovation efforts.
Edited by Yehya Aoun