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Rethink Events Ltd 2nd Floor, Intergen House, 65-67 Western Road, Hove BN3 2JQ, UK

Roundtable Key Takeaways

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During the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit 2019, one of the most interactive sessions of the programme was the roundtable discussion groups. Hosted by an industry expert, the discussions offered a valuable opportunity to network, brainstorm solutions and share ideas with peers on similar topics and issues. Find out the key takeaways from each roundtable here:

  • Is the adoption of IoT a game changer in service level provision by utilities?
    Host: Khalil Maalouf, Partner,
    XPV WATER PARTNERS

    1. Yes it is a gamechanger regarding wastewater there are clear benefits on infrastructure spend avoidance/reduction, less overflow and reduced fines (implying lower rates).

    2. Yes it is a gamechanger regarding water: impact on smart infrastructure upgrades / reuse water / quality / conservation

    3. Regardless the conclusion is the train has left the station and regardless of the speed IoT will drive transparency

  • Fostering a culture of innovation: what are the attributes that can make this a reality for water companies?
    Host: Andrea Gysin, Head of Research, Development and Innovation,
    THAMES WATER

    1. Innovation requires leadership and consistent follow up – but don’t ignore the views of the people on the ground

    2. Alignment and engagement and communications make messages relevant to each stakeholder of different departments / functions / cultures

    3. Solve the basics first!

  • De-risking technology and innovation adoption
    Host: Mogan Padayachee, Technology and Innovation Group Strategy Manager,
    RAND WATER

    1. Line function support, executive leadership support, top management support, linked to innovation programme

    2. Cluster collaboration with similar utilities / municipalities, shared procurement, shared resources/risk

    3. Culture of innovation must be created, win-win, ownership, performance management. Key emphasis on collaborative innovation with enabling supply chain management to quickly and effectively test new tech and solutions

  • Growing your business in the US: Exploring the benefits and risks
    Host: Beverley Ferrara, European Representative,
    THE WATER COUNCIL

    1. When evaluating the US market, hub proximity (a cluster) is useful – valuable local knowledge, access to utilities, pilot is very important to gain early traction

    2. Political/Trade Climate – Brexit has made the time element more critical. Looking more seriously at markets outside the US. On the other hand, US political administration and policy decisions don’t affect decision making about where ad how to evaluate expansion

    3. Biggest risk is the scale of the county/country – big opportunities, but where and how to start. Easy to get lost. Need a good local partner (this is why a hub could be useful)

  • What are going to be the most hot challenges of water utilities in the 2025?
    Host: Yossi Yaacoby, Chief of Staff,
    MEKOROT

    1. Digital is only scratching the surface, there is a lot to do. We should be aware of the risks. As long as it is going to penetrate we will need better protection of cyber security

    2. In order to improve and be innovative, we have to cooperate on a global scale. Only cooperation on a global scale will create the meaningful change and real progress

    3. Decentralised solutions will grow dramatically along the whole value chain. This will require better regulatory inspection. New models for utilities that might control these plants

  • What can we learn from utilities already deploying digital technologies, and how do we get more utilities to start the digital journey?
    Host: Randolf Webb, Director, Strategy & Marketing – Europe,
    XYLEM

    1. Data and integration is a main challenge – better syncing of data protocols, more collaboration across the supply chain, and technology suppliers providing integration solutions would be beneficial

    2. Ecosystems and partnerships are key – building relationships with technology suppliers and consultants and engaging with universities and innovation labs help to make the organization more comfortable with digital solutions

    3. Leverage peer-to-peer connections to accelerate adoption – we need more clarity on value cases and how to deploy these technologies, and then for this info to be shared by utility peers (both in-person and on-line)

  • Which policies and market interventions can accelerate the deployment of water reuse schemes in new developments?
    Host: Ben Earl, Water Efficiency Manager,
    SOUTHERN WATER

    1. It is easier to sell the benefits to customers through a lower water bill than it is for a developer

    2. Whatever is designed as safe quality of water the public needs to accept it in their home

    3. Industrial water use – we need tax breaks or ‘Pay As You Save’ schemes

  • What do water companies need to do to encourage and support more innovation?
    Host: Kieran Brocklebank, Head of Innovation,
    UNITED UTILITIES

    1. Better problem definition and share this widely – this helps to focus attention

    2. Increase adoption rates – remove the need. Be clear on why, to talk to and empower them. Allow for culture and personality

    3. Too much effort and process to stop innovation. Where is the equivalent effort to start and support innovation. We need to allow for failure

  • The art of sustainable and scalable fundraising for your start-up and SME
    Host: Helge Daebel, Investment Director,
    EMERALD TECHNOLOGY VENTURES

    1. Do your homework – what acquisitions are happening in the industry? Which revenues / profitability do you need to achieve to become a target? How much capital will be required to get to this stage?

    2. What kind of capital fits these capital needs and expected return? Search for according investors / debt providers. Check for adjustment: time line, return expectations, find size and timing, usual investment and accounts

    3. Do not shy away from this being an iterative process. Be mindful with valuations, there will be another round and you are likely to miss your milestones.

  • Shifting water demands and fostering innovation in global markets
    Host: Karolina Peret, International Manager,
    BRITISH WATER

    1. In Brazil, Sao Paulo – consumption is decreasing and conscious water use is growing by the consumer; also grey water for toilets is the future – why are we using clean drinking water grade water for toilets or waste?

    2. Greatest antibiotic and hormonal (pharmaceuticals) waste comes from domestic waste from homes, not industry like is the popular belief

    3. Conscious consumption is key for future water sustainability but this is only possible through education

  • What are the real opportunities water utilities can develop for and apply to a circular economy?
    Host: Rik Thijssen, Manager Business Development,
    VITENS

    1. On a national level regulations are a limiting factor

    2. An idea is to have a multi-utility approach to bring several waste streams together (volume matters)

    3. We need more education for regulation and the consumer.

  • Industrial water re-use – The future is not what it used to be
    Co-Hosts: Alex Money, Programme Director, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD and Mark Lane, Consultant, UK WATER PARTNERSHIP

    1. How should industrial water recycling plants be financed? Water scarcity is managing a business risk

    2. How do you treat COD / BOD efficiently? Scale waters here

    3. Wish list from participants: lighter regulations to make companies reuse water and education of children at schools on value of water

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