UK Innovation Potential in Advanced Water Treatment: Future Directions & Strategy II
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During the workshop, three sessions were assigned to allow six interdisciplinary groups to explore fourteen questions. Detailed responses can be found in the attachment. From the discussions a number of key issues from each of the three sessions: The first set of questions explored what the features might be of a Technology Demonstration Site, who would use it, what services it should offer, its location and how it might be funded and operated. A long list of users emerged from those who would want to undertake testing to those who would wish to access data and peer review findings e.g. the international investment/development community. It emerged that services required are available, but not in a form that is focused on water technologies, and the expertise to support innovation in the sector is scattered across a range of national silos. A hub and spoke structure was suggested by most of the groups. There was recognition that a facility could represent an opportunity to promote the sector’s work to a national and international audience. Plug, Play & Pay usage of facilities with access to the appropriate raw water source(s) were key elements for success. The lack of a facility to deliver innovation is seen as a market failure and government intervention therefore appropriate, but any centre should also be industry/demand driven. Industry must therefore be part of the funding mechanism. A second set of questions considered the role of advanced water technologies in delivering water security and sustainability in both the UK and internationally. Almost all the groups highlighted the need for easily maintained, chemical free, low energy using or renewable energy creating technologies, with the capability to remove high levels of micro-pollutants. The groups also explored how water quality affected security and what technologies were needed to address security issues. The Research and Development Framework was the subject of the final question in this session and participants discussed what the water sector could do to contribute more effectively – engagement and taking a leadership role emerged as being key. A final set of questions considered the global markets that might stimulate advanced water technology development in the UK and the mechanisms to stimulate these markets. The knowledge around current business support offerings was collated during this session. The groups were also asked to consider what new or additional support was needed to realise the economic benefits of global market. As identified in a previous workshop, water innovation is not being driven in a coherent fashion. There are current examples of technology research being funded where the technology already exists. There is therefore an opportunity for coordinated effort and ensure that the UK’s knowledge base is fully exploited. Strong leadership is now required to muster industry and academia (including the supply chain and our research intensive SMEs who are clearly already major innovation drivers). The UK needs to foster closer relationships with international networks and a focused UK advanced water innovation network may provide a lens through which UK capability can be viewed by the international investment community.