Bringing innovation to water policy
Water is a vital resource for life and our economy. But it faces many serious challenges ranging from scarcity and pollution to ecosystem degradation. To tackle these, the Commission is encouraging innovative solutions that will also create commercial opportunities for those developing them.
The European Innovation Partnership on Water is the vehicle helping to bring fresh thinking to the implementation of EU water policy. It adopts a broad perspective to the task, embracing new products, processes and ways of working in the public and private sectors.
It is also bringing a pragmatic approach by first establishing the problems the water sector faces, considering the solutions that could be applied, identifying the barriers that hinder their development and devising ways of overcoming them.
Covering the entire innovation value chain, the Partnership focuses on five specific priority areas – water reuse and recycling, wastewater treatment, issues related to water and energy, flood and drought risk management and ecosystem services. These are supplemented by three cross-cutting priorities: water governance, decision support systems and finance. In each area, key challenges, bottlenecks, market opportunities and objectives have been identified.
The widespread interest which the innovation partnership has sparked can be seen by the response to the Commission’s call for action groups with which it works to identify problems and deliver solutions. It received 64 proposals involving over 700 organisations.
In the end, nine action groups were selected for their excellence and ability to deliver and commercialise solutions. These cover areas such as industrial water reuse and recycling, eco-system services for the environment and cities blueprints.
Covering the entire innovation value chain, the Partnership focuses on five specific priority areas – water reuse and recycling, wastewater treatment, issues related to water and energy, flood and drought risk management and ecosystem services
Now in its second operating year, after being set up in the EU’s 2012 Year of Water, the Partnership launched a new call for action groups last November and has agreed a work programme for 2014. These include moves to bring proven inventions to the attention of a broader audience so that they may be applied more widely and their developers may enjoy stronger commercial rewards.
Attention is also being given to ways to connect initiatives such as technology platforms, national measures and funding from sources like the EU’s structural funds and its research programme Horizon 2020 to prevent duplication and encourage a harmonised approach.
EU research and innovation funding made EUR 50 million available in the first year for projects related to the EIP Water priorities and similar amounts could be available in 2014 and 2015. It also operates an online collaboration platform, EIP Water Marketplace, for matchmaking where supply and demand can meet and exchange information.