UK Innovation Potential in Advanced Water Treatment: Future Directions & Strategy I
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The below response to the twelve questions discussed by eight interdisciplinary groups during the water innovation workshop includes the breath of responses with some editorial comments (in italics). From those discussions a number of key issues have emerged; The need for a national test facility that enables access for spin offs, SMEs and academics to test advanced water technology innovations. While such a facility could be hosted by a water company, access should be affordable and open. A follow-on workshop will discuss how such a facility could be funded and what such a facility would ideally provide. Innovation funding in the water sector – and advanced water treatment technologies in particular – is widely held to be inadequate and places the UK knowledge base into a poor starting place for international competition. Research funding for the sector and funding models that support industryacademia partnerships, spin offs, SMEs and routes to market require a strategic revisit to enable UK talent at all levels and ultimately national benefits of job creation and a healthy position of the UK in the global marketplace. An important exercise may be to establish the actual research spend in the sector, a comparative analysis to leaders in the field (such as Singapore, Israel, Germany and Australia), enhanced communication of research in the sector and the impact of such research expenditure, in tandem with a clear water innovation strategy. Innovation in the water sector is fractured with potentially significant repetition and lack of a coordinated effort. Yet the broad knowledge base available in the UK is not exploited to its fullest potential by drawing inclusively on expertise from a multitude of providers and disciplines. Further a need for stronger policyindustry- academia partnerships has been emphasized as beneficial, where industry includes the supply chain and SMEs that are seen as major innovation drivers. Close interaction with international networks and possibly the creation of a focused UK advanced water innovation network will be discussions for a follow-on meeting. A follow-on workshop with a tentative date in early December 2011 will be scheduled in due course with a set of well defined questions to move forward on discussions from this first workshop. Suggested questions and nominations for participation are most welcome.