European Commision


EIP Water News 17 / Nov 2014, 13. November 2014
EIP Water | Boosting opportunities - Innovating water

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the November 2014 edition of our newsletter!

Last week's 2nd annual EIP Water conference in Barcelona, Europe's Innovation Capital 2014, attracted well over 400 participants from all over Europe and beyond. During the conference, which also marked the launch of the 3rd Call for Expressions of Commitment to establish an EIP Water Action Group, participants tapped into the excellent networking opportunities, connected with 25 EIP Water Action Groups and exhibiting organizations and established new contacts. The lively and dynamic conference sessions provided food for thought and discussion, and a large variety of perspectives on water innovation-related challenges. All presentations are now available on the EIP Water slideshare account and a conference report will be published soon. 

The Conference succeeded in “Connecting Innovation Demand and Supply” in the European water sector and we were pleased to receive positive feedback on the event and the excellent networking opportunities it provided. We are proud to see our annual conference grow into one of Europe’s flagship events on water innovation in just over one year. Special thanks go to the conference partners, Action Groups, exhibitors, moderators and speakers for their highly-valued contributions.

We would also like to inform you that the direct involvement of Robert Schröder in the EIP Water on behalf of DG Environment of the European Commission comes to a close this week. Robert, who has been closely involved in the activities of EIP Water since its inception, conveys his sincere thanks to all stakeholders for their enthusiasm and constructive support over the past years.


Best regards,
The EIP Water Secretariat


EIP Water News and Updates

Second EIP Water Conference highly interactive

On 5th November, the second EIP Water Conference took place in Europe’s “iCapital 2014” Barcelona, Spain, under the theme "Connecting Innovation demand and supply".

Well over 400 participants in Barcelona made use of the networking opportunities and engaged during the various Conference plenary sessions of an intense one day programme providing many different perspectives and insights on the challenges of water innovation. 

The entire conference was streamed live and followed by approximately 80 viewers with a peak of over 300 viewers during the global launch of the CDP Water Report 2014.

A large number of side events and site visits also took place in addition to the main conference programme. 

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Third call for EIP Water Action Groups: deadline 31 January

Action Groups (AGs) are the central element of EIP Water's implementation phase – in essence - the core of the European Innovation Partnership on Water.

The Groups, which operate as voluntary multi-stakeholder groups, work with their partners to develop, test, scale-up, disseminate and stimulate the uptake of innovations by the market and society for major water-related challenges. After two calls, there are currently 25 Action Groups collaborating on a large variety of water innovation challenges.

An EIP Water Action Group presents, among others, the following benefits:
  • Exposure of your AG activities through EIP Water communication channels - featured items on the EIP Water Online Marketplace, publicity at EIP Water conference and events
  • Support from the EIP Water secretariat and European Commission services on relevant issues, active connection-making with other relevant organisations / companies and initiatives
  • The opportunity to participate indirectly in shaping European innovation policy
  • Networking opportunities on European and global level
  • Use of EIP Water branding in all your communication activities
  • Free digital AG working space on the EIP Water online Market Place
The EIP Water’s third call for expressions of commitment with a specific focus was launched on 5 November and will end on 31 January 2015.

Guidelines for developing an expression of commitment as well as an application form are available here. Interested parties may also make use of a new online Forum to post queries, seek possible partners for collaboration, and enhance their proposal.

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Conference presentations
online now! 

Presentations from the EIP Water Conference 2014 can now be viewed and downloaded from the EIP Water slideshare account

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EIP Water’s web presence
growing stronger

In early November, the EIP Water’s so-called “Online Marketplace” passed the 1,500 registered users mark – a clear demonstration of its relevance as an increasingly important tool for the initiative’s communication and collaboration efforts.

The EIP Water Secretariat managed a booth at the EIP Water Conference 2014 in Barcelona to showcase and demonstrate the functionalities, user features and other advantages of the Marketplace to a highly-interested audience. The Secretariat also conducted ten in-depth interviews on the user experience and functionalities of the Marketplace (MP) with pre-selected 'power-users' to receive their feedback on how to further optimize the MP. This feedback as well as other comments by visitors to the booth will build the basis for the planned improvements and expansions of the information and collaboration system in the coming year. We look forward to reading from you and welcoming you as a new user of the Marketplace!

Taskforce meeting in Barcelona

The 6th EIP Water Task Force meeting was held on 4 November 2014 as a side event before the 2nd EIP Water Conference. At the meeting, EIP Water presented an update on the status of work of the Action Groups, with dedicated slots for the Action Groups WIRE and Finnowater. DG RTD shared information on preliminary results from the water-specific calls of Horizon 2020, which have been largely oversubscribed in comparison to available funds. The Task Force agreed on the launch of the 3rd call for Action Groups and its criteria. Longer discussions were held regarding the review of the EIP Water activities to overcome priority barriers and bottlenecks to innovation, and the planned review of the initiative’s Strategic Implementation Plan. The Task Force also made proposals for the future governance structure; it is expected that the new European Commission and the high-level Steering Group will further discuss the revision of the Strategic Implementation Plan and governance structure at the next EIP Water Steering Group meeting planned for early December 2014.

EIP Water Action Group News

Strong Action Group Presence
at Annual Conference

All 25 EIP Water Action Groups were present and participated actively in various sessions during the 2nd EIP Water Conference in Barcelona in November. During the moderated session “EIP Water Auction” in which four Water Directors from EU Member States (UK, The Netherlands, Slovenia and Spain) presented their respective water challenges, Action Groups leads and representatives provided input and possible solutions to practical water sector challenges - in a dialogue that will continue after the conference in the years to come. 

Besides participating in the plenary sessions, 18 Action Groups displayed their ongoing work in the Exhibition Area. This proved to be a well-received opportunity to present their work and to network with conference participants and other Action Groups. Furthermore, 12 Action Groups used the occasion of the conference to meet face-to-face at side events during the conference period. These meetings were good opportunities to review ongoing work, invite new members, and above all, initiate activities to speed towards full-scale demonstration of proposed innovation, or in the case of ‘horizontal’ EIP Water priority areas, boost proposed practices in e.g. finance, legislation. 

One Action Group has already started the procurement phase for a full-scale demonstration site. Interesting to note is the increasing cross-linking between Action Groups, overtly with the aim of benefiting from each other’s work. 

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Action Group addresses Benchmarking Challenges in the European Water Industry

Benchmarking methods are currently widely used in the energy sector. Unfortunately, these approaches are yet to be applied in the water sector where regulation procedures are generally less developed. In Europe, notable exceptions are in the UK and Denmark where such methods are used to set up price review. This raises the question: What would happen if benchmarking-based incentive regulations were widely applied in the water sector?

On 31st October, EIP Water Action Group WaterReg organised a workshop to address this and other related questions. Several methodological issues were identified and benchmarking methods applied to several sets of available water data from France, Italy and Eastern European countries were presented. Although the results are promising, they also suggest that introducing such incentive regulation to the European water sector in the absence of precautions to establish price review might lead to regulatory risks - which are not to be underestimated. 

The workshop concluded that efforts should be made to collect more exhaustive data sets and, if possible, the same data sets from all European countries that are interested in such techniques for regulation. The creation of a future network of regulators in the water sector would provide a possible means of ensuring the efficient coordination such efforts. 

All presentations from the workshop are available here.

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Selected Water Innovation News

Putting Innovation Into Action Requires New Financial Tools, Stakeholder Engagement

“Access to a variety of financial instruments and greater dialogue and cooperation among all stakeholders are two of the key components needed to encourage companies, governments and individuals to develop and to implement innovations in the water sector, according to participants at the EIP Water’s second annual conference in Barcelona, Spain last week”, writes OOSKAnews about the 2014 Conference of the EIP Water held under the theme “Connecting water innovation demand and supply.”

“When seeking solutions to the water problems - as well as other problems - the challenge "is not always a technical challenge; it has to do with stakeholders," said Florian Witsenburg, CEO of Dutch urban planning solutions company Tygron, who discussed his perspective on innovation as an entrepreneur. He noted that the problem with asking people to accept innovation, i.e. change, is that they are afraid of "losing" in negotiations. 

Leaders often do not want to negotiate with other stakeholders, and this prevents all sides from finding a "win-win" solution to address a problem, he said.

Developing innovative solutions also requires funding, Witsenburg noted - he recommended that governments allocate a budget of 3 percent for innovation, and that they build demonstration sites to showcase and disseminate information about innovative solutions."

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Water risk threatens business growth for world's largest companies

“Two thirds of the world's largest companies are reporting exposure to water risks, some of which have potential to limit growth. The news comes amid mounting shareholder concern around the business impacts from water scarcity, accessibility and poor water quality”, writes the London-based CDP when launching its 2014 Water Report during the EIP Water Conference on 5 November. 

“The latest annual global water report, released today by CDP, an international NGO that drives sustainable economies and holds the largest collection of company-reported environmental data, finds that 68% of businesses report exposure to water risk which could generate a substantive change in their business, operations or revenue. Twenty-two percent of companies anticipate that issues around water could limit the growth of their business. The analysis is based on the water management data of 174 companies listed on the FTSE Global 500 Equity Index provided to CDP at the request of 573 institutional investors with US$60 trillion in assets. The number of investors pressing for corporate accountability on water and related information through CDP has increased by more than 300% since 2010, reflecting growing shareholder attention to water challenges” writes CDP further.

CDP’s Water Report 2014 is available here; It is accompanied by the release of CDP's wider global water dataset in an easily accessible online platform.

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Recommended Reading

The Path to Water Innovation 
in the USA

“For more than a century the United States’ water system has been one of the most reliable in the world. Today, it provides sufficient water to support over 315 million people, almost 55 million acres of irrigated farmland, and a $16 trillion economy. Yet the water sector faces increasing pressures. Growth in population and the economy, along with urbanization and land-use changes, are threatening both water quality and the ability to meet water demand. Looking to the future, climate change is expected to further stress water systems in large parts of the country. Water infrastructure, by some measures the oldest and most fragile part of the country’s built environment, has decayed”, writes the Brookings Institution, a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions in the USA, in its introduction to “The Path to Water Innovation”. 

“Solutions to the country’s growing water challenges lie, in part, with the development and adoption of new innovative technologies. Yet, in comparison to the electric power sector, investment in water innovation is extremely low. Indeed, investment by the savviest promoters of innovation—such as venture capital and corporate research and development—are strikingly low in the United States and globally when compared with other major sectors of the economy. This low investment helps explain low levels of innovative output, as measured by patent filings and other data. Adoption and dissemination of new innovations are also slow."

The authors of the report Newsha K. Ajami, Barton H. Thompson, Jr. and David G. Victor identify seven different "primary barriers to innovation" in the USA which are "related to the way that the many layers of governmental agencies and water entities manage the nation’s water sector." They also present several recommendations how to overcome these barriers and encourage more innovation in the US American water sector.

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Politics of innovation in multi-level water governance systems

“Innovations are being proposed in many countries in order to support change towards more sustainable and water secure futures. However, the extent to which they can be implemented is subject to complex politics and powerful coalitions across multi-level governance systems and scales of interest. Exactly how innovation uptake can be best facilitated or blocked in these complex systems is thus a matter of important practical and research interest in water cycle management”, writes Elsevier in the summary of a paper by Katherine A. Daniell, Peter J. Coombes and Ian White. 

“From intervention research studies in Australia, China and Bulgaria, this paper seeks to describe and analyse the behind-the-scenes struggles and coalition-building that occurs between water utility providers, private companies, experts, communities and all levels of government in an effort to support or block specific innovations. The research findings suggest that in order to ensure successful passage of the proposed innovations, champions for it are required from at least two administrative levels, including one with innovation implementation capacity, as part of a larger supportive coalition. Higher governance levels can play an important enabling role in facilitating the passage of certain types of innovations that may be in competition with currently entrenched systems of water management. 

Due to a range of natural biases, experts on certain innovations and disciplines may form part of supporting or blocking coalitions but their evaluations of worth for water system sustainability and security are likely to be subject to competing claims based on different values and expertise, so may not necessarily be of use in resolving questions of “best courses of action”. This remains a political values-based decision to be negotiated through the receiving multi-level water governance system.”

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Announcements and Events

10th EWA Brussels Conference: Water in the Cities

The growing world population, climate change and pollution are affecting strongly the availability of water in the cities. Water resources have to be managed efficiently at every stage and water management. The 10th EWA Brussels Conference will aim to address these challenges under the theme “Water in the Cities”; it will take place on 18 November 2014 in Brussels. Held in cooperation with the DG Environment of the European Commission, the main objective of the annual EWA Brussels Conference is to establish a dialogue between the European Commission and European water professionals and stakeholders. The EIP Water will present its activities at the conference.

“Water Policy of Tomorrow” will precede the Conference on 17 November 2014. After Keynote speeches by the European Commission and EU Parliament, the evening will continue with a panel discussion and a dinner – 10th Anniversary EWA Brussels Conference. Furthermore there will be an EWA EU Water Policy Seminar II on “Future developments in water policy and implementation” on 19 November 2014. This Policy Seminar has during past years provided an overview on EU institutions, their interaction and decision-making processes, as well as possibilities, paths and legal rights for access to information and documents, and a summary of water-related policy and legislation.

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Urban Robotics Market
Consultation on 20 November
in Barcelona

The European Commission has funded ECHORD++, a 5 year project (2013-2018) which aims at strengthening the cooperation between public bodies, scientific research, and industry in robotics. The ECHORD++ Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) pilot in Urban Robotics wants to bridge the technical innovation through public demand "identifying the cities and citizens needs and selecting the tailor-made high-quality robotic technology to close the gap between demand and supply". ECHORD++ will finance the complete PCP process of R&D Robotic Solutions.

The Urban Challenge selected to address the R&D robotic solutions is: To mechanize sewer inspections in order to reduce the labor risks, objectify sewer inspections and optimize sewer cleaning expenses of the city. And the city designated to foster the proposal is: Barcelona, Spain. 

An Infoday will take place on November 20th in Barcelona to introduce the PCP Pilot R&D Call to inform interested parties about the phases, evaluation criteria and technical requirements. An overview of the project will be provided together with the possibility to discuss with E++’s stuff members and/or find potential partners. A visit to the sewage infrastructure where the technical solutions should be developed, will also take place. All research institutions and companies in consortium or not will have the opportunity to apply for funding in a competitive process. The call will be open for six weeks, 15th January 2015 – 28th February 2015. 

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The Dynamics of Water Innovation – Call for Papers

The Journal of Cleaner Production (JCLP) is preparing a Special Volume (SV) on “The Dynamics of Water Innovation”. The Guest Editors of this Special Volume, Dr. Uta Wehn of UNESCO-IHE and Dr. Carlos Montalvo of TNO, invite authors to prepare and submit papers that include, but are not restricted to, the following broad topics:
  1. Generation and application of water-related innovations
  2. Water-related R&D and innovation and structural change
  3. Water innovation systems (learning, innovation and competence building systems)
  4. National strategies for water-related innovations and capacity development
  5. Skills, organisational learning and knowledge management for water innovation
  6. Water-related social innovation
  7. Inter-sectoral dynamics of water-related innovation and knowledge flows
  8. Implications of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for water
The Special Volume intends to engage academics, policy-makers, corporate leaders, managers, NGOs and other practitioners in developing manuscripts in the dialogue on the dynamics of water innovation, identifying ways in which water-related challenges can be addressed by innovation, determining the factors that need to be analyzed in order to catalyze water innovation, and considering appropriate innovation policies to address water-related challenges.

The Team welcomes traditional academic papers (e.g. based on original research using comprehensive literature reviews, theoretical frameworks, empirical studies, including case studies) as well as practitioners’ and policy makers’ accounts.

The deadline for submission of Abstracts (400-500 words) is 31 January 2015. Abstracts should be submitted to Dr. Uta Wehn and Dr. Carlos Montalvo.

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