European Commision


EIP Water News 12 / March 2014, 19. March 2014
EIP Water | Boosting opportunities - Innovating water

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the March 2014 edition of our monthly newsletter!

The evaluation of the 38 submitted proposals for Action Groups we received in response to our 2nd call for expressions of commitment is in its final stage. We aim to conclude the evaluation before the end of March and inform all involved stakeholders about the results. We will send out a special edition of the EIP Water newsletter to present the results and briefly introduce the new Action Groups and their planned activities.

The European Commission has set up an independent expert group, chaired by former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho, to examine the current practice of all five existing European Innovation Partnerships and their impacts. The expert group's findings and recommendations have been recently published in the report "Outriders for European competitiveness".  In particular, the report addresses ways to improve the functioning and potential impact of the ongoing EIPs and identify criteria for future EIPs.

The theme of this year's World Water Day on 22 March is “Water and Energy”, which is also one of EIP Water’s priority areas. Therefore, in this issue of our newsletter, we take the opportunity to update you on the activities of the  EIP Water Action Groups that are working in this field: Water4Energy Framework , Renewable Energy Desalination and Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor.

Best regards,
The EIP Water Secretariat


EIP Water News and Updates

European Innovation Partnerships  - Outriders for European Competitiveness

European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) are still a relatively new approach to EU research and innovation. They act across the whole research and innovation chain and bring together all relevant actors at EU, national and regional levels; There are currently five EIPs  in various stages of development in the following  areas: Active and Healthy Ageing; Agricultural Sustainability and Productivity; Smart Cities and Communities; Raw Materials; and Water.

In 2013, the European Commission set up an independent expert group to assess progress and evaluate the overall performance of the five existing EIPs. The expert group was chaired by former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho. Its main task was to deliver an objective and reasoned assessment of the EIP concept and approach, including a global assessment of the actions that have taken place within each EIP and the emerging outcomes. Its mandate has been to analyze the working methods of the current EIPs, review provisional and actual results and lessons learnt, assess any measures to improve the functioning of the current EIPs, and identify criteria for future EIPs. The review was not aimed at redefining the objectives or priorities of the current EIPs.

Among the report’s conclusions are recommendations to provide a framework for systemic change, to adopt clear indicators for success, to secure committed high-level leadership and to improve the stakeholder engagement model.

read more

EIP Water Task Force
meeting on 3 April 2014

On the 3rd of April, the EIP Water Task Force will meet for the fifth time in Brussels to take stock of progress to date and provide advice on the future work of the EIP. Two important items on the agenda are: the ongoing work related to the removal of innovation barriers in the water sector as well as  possibilities and lessons learned on the dissemination and marketing of innovations that emerge from the EIP Water.

In the first agenda item, the Taskforce will discuss the action plans to remove five key barriers to (water) innovation, drafted by five drafting teams composed of the Taskforce members.  The selected innovation barriers were identified in the recent Barriers & Bottlenecks to Water Innovation Report. The finalized action plans will be sent to the EIP Water Steering Group, to decide on recommendations for taking these actions forward.

With regard to disseminating results and outcomes of the EIP Water Action Groups, the Taskforce will discuss with representatives of the EIP on Active & Healthy Ageing (AHA) to learn from their experiences and share ideas. The EIP AHA is the pilot EIP and has started a wide range of activities, such as setting up Reference Sites that provide examples of comprehensive, innovation-based approaches to active and healthy ageing which show impact and particular innovative practices which could be transferred to other European contexts.

EIP Water Action Group News

Water & Energy in EIP Water

This year’s World Water Day theme is Water and Energy, which has also been selected and defined as one of eight EIP Water priority areas. Currently, three of the nine initial Action Groups are active in this field. They focus on different issues, but their work is interlinked. The three Action Groups are: The Action Group “W4EF” (Water4Energy Framework) will be involved in an international Water-Energy Nexus Conference at the end of October this year in Lyon, France. Titled “Preserving the Flow of Life”, this Conference from 29 to 31 October aims to be a transition from the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles in 2012 to the seventh World Water Forum in South Korea in April 2015. Its main theme is “Water & Energy interactions: strategic challenges to territorial development” and it aims to take stock of the progress made regarding earlier commitments for water and energy-related issues and the impacts of the multiple uses of water on food and health. Submissions to the Conference must be handed in by 15 April 2014.

Furthermore, the W4EF Action Group will hold three sectorial workshops in April in Paris on Mineral Extraction (16 April), Thermal Power Plants (17 April) and Hydropower (24-25 April).

The main aim of the Action Group “Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor” is to develop such a reactor, which involves work on assessing an alternative wastewater treatment based on AnMBR technology. This will not only focus on evaluating optimal scenarios of this technology but also consider downstream processes in order to maximise resource recovery including nutrient, dissolved methane and biogas from organic matter. The final aim will be to offer new market opportunities over conventional wastewater treatment technologies.

The Action Group RE-Desalination is working on the promotion and commercialization of a variety of new technologies; among them are: The AG members also continue their research on new RE-Desalination technologies development and demonstration.

A solar desalination course, conducted by members of the Action Group and organized by the European Desalination Society is scheduled for June 11-13 in Almería (Spain), while preparations for presenting the AG’s work at the Conference and Exhibition “Desalination for the Environment: Clean Water and Energy" which will take place from 11 to 15 May 2014 in Cyprus.

RE Desalination has identified a number of innovation barriers to their work, about which we report in the following article.

Identifying innovation barriers

EIP Water Action Groups develop, test, scale up, disseminate and stimulate the uptake of water innovations. By doing so, they face - and identify - a number of barriers and bottlenecks to their activities. One Action Group - Renewable Energy (RE) Desalination - has already identified a number of very specific barriers and bottlenecks to (the uptake of) its innovations:
  1. Persisting negative perception and lack of knowledge about current RE desalination technologies, their potential and benefits;
  2. Pricing structures and subsidies of water supply, usually originating from unrenewable sources, that create unfair competition;
  3. The fact that decentralised water supply (independent water production) is not favored by the current structures (small-scale desalination is usually the niche for RE-desalination);
  4. The fact that competitive markets are mainly outside the EU (only small islands are an option within the EU).
If you would like to share similar experiences, possible solutions to overcoming these barriers, or any other insights related to this Action Group, please approach the Action Group directly via the EIP Water Marketplace or contact the EIP Water Secretariat.

Thank you in advance for your contributions!

read more

More and better
innovation financing?

The FinnoWater Action Group, coordinated by European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), recently developed and launched an online survey on finance for water innovation. The survey includes questions about a number of topics and methods of financing with the aim of gathering insights, perspectives and ideas for developing stronger innovation funding policies. Please spare ten minutes to participate in the survey and make your ideas count!

The first round of results is expected by mid-April and all results will be published on the EIP Water Marketplace. Individual responses will remain confidential. The FinnoWater Action Group will use the results to inform the development of future innovation funding policy recommendations and thanks you in advance for your participation.


read more

Selected Water Innovation News

Environmental Performance Index 2014 published

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a joint project between the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University, ranks countries’ performance on high-priority environmental issues in two broad policy areas: protection of human health from environmental harm and protection of ecosystems.

Rankings are based on the calculation and aggregation of 20 indicators reflecting national-level environmental data. These indicators are combined into nine issue categories, each of which fits into one of two overarching objectives, Environmental Health and Ecosystem Vitality.

Water and Sanitation is one of the nine issue categories under Environmental Health while Water Resources is an issue category under Ecosystem Vitality. Among the key findings of the 2014 EPI are:
  • Dramatic progress is possible when measurement and management practices align.
  • When measurement is poor or not aligned with proper management, natural and human systems suffer.
  • Countries of varying economic development have divergent climate emissions trajectories; these warrant different policy priorities.
  • Cities offer both opportunities and challenges when it comes to environmental sustainability.
  • For some priority indicators (such as the sustainability of agricultural practices and freshwater resource management) measurement capabilities remain distressingly weak.

read more

Network Efficiency through Innovation - Industry Webinar

On 6 March 2014, Marketforce and Vodafone held a One-hour Water Industry Webinar themed “Network Efficiency through Innovation”. A panel, consisting of Mel Karam (Director of Asset Management Southern Water), Trevor Bishop (Head of Water Resources Environment Agency), Keith Banwaitt (Global Head of Fixed M2M & Utilities Vodafone Group), and Jeremy Heath (Network Manager Sutton & East Surrey Water), discussed technology and innovation requirements towards addressing the key challenges placed on water supply by floods, droughts and efficiency targets.

Key discussions at the webinar considered that technology will play a major role in achieving efficiency and risk management; two thirds of participants in the forum also endorsed the idea of compulsory metering as a means to support efficiency.

A full recording of the webinar can be watched on-demand - please visit this webpage and enter your e-mail address to log in. 

Recommended Reading

Google, Adobe and eBay innovate to save water in drought-hit California

“Silicon Valley companies are employing low and high tech measures, from robotics to 'hydrozoning', to help save water” is the subtitle of an article by Todd Woody, an environmental journalist based in California, which was recently published in The Guardian.

It quotes various spokespersons who explain the reactions of the technology companies to the record-breaking drought that has hit the US state recently.

Here are some examples from the article:
  • Adobe spokeswoman Colleen Rodriguez says it has cut water consumption in its San Francisco Bay Area buildings by 62% since 2000 by installing low-flow faucets, waterless urinals and using drought-resistant native plants and drip-irrigation systems. ...
  • An eBay spokeswoman, Kari Ramirez, says data centers are the company's biggest water users so efforts are underway to cut consumption by installing fans among the rows of computer servers while switching to passive cooling systems ….
  • Google's Anthony Ravitz, the green team lead for Google's real estate and workplace services, says the search giant is considering stalling new technology such as urinal cakes that contain enzymes that calcify urine so that toilets only have to be flushed a few times a day for cleaning. That move could save an estimated 500,000 gallons of water a year, he says.
  • Water consumption by solar power plants built in the desert Southwest of the US has been a hot-button issue in recent years. That led SunPower to turn to robots to minimize the water used to clean hundreds of thousands of solar panels installed at the photovoltaic power plants it develops. In November, SunPower acquired Greenbotics, a company that makes Roomba-like robots that glide over solar panels at night, cleaning as they go …

read more

Water Governance in the Netherlands – Fit for the Future?

The OECD has long been a strong advocate for water management that contributes to economic growth, environmental sustainability and social welfare. Solving today’s water problems and coping with those of tomorrow requires adaptive, agile and resilient institutions at different levels coupled with a clear understanding of capacity of governments to manage the inter-related risks of too much water, too little water, too polluted water and risks regarding the resilience of freshwater ecosystems.

Its new report titled “Water Governance in the Netherlands – Fit for the future?” assesses the extent to which Dutch water governance is fit for future challenges and suggests ways to adjust or reform policies and institutions. The report is based on a one-year policy dialogue with a wide range of Dutch stakeholders, supported by robust analytical work and drawing on international best practice.

read more

New and Profitable Opportunities Remain in the $600 Billion Water Industry

Despite a drumbeat of pessimism, the $600 billion water industry boasts of a sizeable number of profitable large companies. What's more, new entrants are bringing emerging technologies that will disrupt the industry and create new opportunities, says a new report by Lux Research based in Boston, Massachusetts. The report includes a review of 150 companies across the value chain – representing 23% of the market – and found average operating profit of 12.9%, torpedoing claims that it's impossible to make money in the water business. Customer-facing sectors in public service and small consumer systems do even better, clocking 14% profits.

“To read recent headlines in the water industry, one might think the sector is impossible to navigate, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Brent Giles, Lux Research Senior Analyst and the lead author of the report titled Making Money in the Water Industry which is part of the Lux Research Water Intelligence service. “By targeting worthwhile market sectors and keeping in mind some key sector-specific principles, a company can build a successful business.”

Lux Research analysts also drew on a survey of over 150 start-up companies to map emerging technologies where new players can find ways to enter – and where established companies will find both opportunities and threats. Among their findings:
  • Two areas dominate innovative company activity. A quarter of the start-ups focus on monitoring, forecast and control, an area that includes advanced sensors and process control. Nearly another quarter focuses on basic wastewater treatment.
  • Advanced sensors are a top technology within monitoring. Advanced sensors read key analyses sensitively, in real time, and use robust techniques suitable to opaque samples, allowing for uses like monitoring of municipal water systems to reduce leakage and non-revenue water.
  • Low-energy, low-sludge systems lead paradigm change in wastewater. An important development  poised to go mainstream is low-energy, low-sludge wastewater treatment.

read more

Announcements and Events


This Global Water Investment Summit on 7 & 8 May in London will focus on Water from an Investment, Finance and Innovation perspective. The aim of the event is to provide a platform of opportunity for key stakeholders to network, exchange investment opportunities and explore new technologies.
Marianne Wenning, Director 'Quality of Life, Water & Air' in DG Environment, European Commission, will give a keynote speech, while Robert Schröder, Policy Advisor in DG Environment will participate in a panel discussion on Water Innovation – Water Energy Food Nexus. Pieter de Jong will attend on behalf of the Finnowater Action Group.

For more information please contact Romain Ollichon, Head of Marketing.

read more

Water: Green Tape or Blue Gold?

The European Technology Platform for Water WssTP recently announced the 2014 edition of its annual Stakeholder Conference Water Innovation Europe, dedicated to the theme ''Water: Green Tape or Blue Gold?''. It will take place on 25 & 26 of June 2014 at the Diamant Centre in Brussels.

The conference, endorsed by the EIP Water and linked to its activities, will focus on the economic opportunities for the European water sector and on providing input to the drafting process of the Horizon2020 Work Program for 2016-2017, with an emphasis on the green economy.

In the context of Water Innovation Europe 2014, WssTP will also take the opportunity to celebrate its 10th anniversary, making this conference a special occasion for all those who will attend it.

read more

World Water Day on 22 March: Water & Energy

In 2014, the UN System – working closely with its Member States and other relevant stakeholders – is collectively bringing its attention to the water-energy nexus, particularly addressing inequities, especially for the 'bottom billion' who live in slums and impoverished rural areas and survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services.

It also aims to facilitate the development of policies and crosscutting frameworks that bridge ministries and sectors, leading the way to energy security and sustainable water use in a green economy. Particular attention will be paid to identifying best practices that can make a water- and energy-efficient 'Green Industry' a reality.

Among the objectives of World Water Day in 2014, whose official celebrations take place in Japan, while a large number of related events is also organized by UN and other organisations in many other countries, are to:
  • raise awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy
  • contribute to a policy dialogue that focuses on the broad range of issues related to the nexus of water and energy
  • demonstrate, through case studies, to decision makers in the energy sector and the water domain that integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues can achieve greater economic and social impacts
  • contribute as relevant to the post-2015 discussions in relation to the water-energy nexus.

read more

WRc Innovation Day on 30 April

The Water Research Centre WRc, an independent and employee-controlled organization, is organizing its 3rd annual Water Innovation Day on 30 April in Swindon, UK. Following an invitation by the WRc, the EIP Water is pleased to participate in this important event, present its activities and on-going work and investigate potential cooperation of UK water innovation actors within the framework of the EIP Water.

read more
Copyright © 2014 European Innovation Partnership on Water, All rights reserved.