Melbourne Water and City West Water have partnered with corporate innovation consultancy and startup accelerator, Collective Campus, to launch Water Works - a corporate startup partnership program designed to drive innovation in the water sector. Water Works will offer startups and scale-ups from not just Australia but across the the world, the opportunity to solve genuine water challenges and generate new commercial outcomes.

The global population is forecast to hit towards 9.7 billion people by 2050, and so it has never been more important to produce more with less - core to startup DNA. As the World Bank wrote recently, innovation and technology can play a vital role in water scarcity and safety, efficiency, utility operations, monitoring, treatment and data analytics. Utilities have shown a greater willingness to test and adopt promising technologies such the remote sensing of water, water remediation, the internet of things and smart irrigation, water quality control, water management and more. Working with startups and scale-ups that can help advance such efforts.

Melbourne Water’s Chief Technology Officer, Geoff Purcell, said, “This partnership will bring new perspectives to our business and industry challenges. Melbourne Water is always looking at innovation across our business and new and emerging technologies are a powerful platform to that end. Start-ups and young companies are helping drive much of this transformation”.

City West Water’s General Manager of Strategy and Planning, Richard Smith, said that “City West Water is excited to partner with start-ups and young companies to help us solve industry challenges. Emerging technology and innovation have an essential role in helping us to provide the safe, reliable and affordable services out customer need today and into the future”.

The Water Works program will focus on three challenges:

  • Continuous monitoring and detection of irregularities at private and rough terrain
  • Driving customer water efficiency behaviour change
  • Accurate water forecasting using new or novel approaches

Solutions may include, but would not be limited to, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), data management, blockchain, gamification and incentive systems, internet of things (IoT) applications, application programming interfaces (API), algorithm-driven automation and reporting applications. The challenges may lend themselves to pure watertech startups and scale-ups as well as companies that have built adjacent solutions that can be adapted to solve these challenges.

“We are excited to partner with Melbourne Water and City West Water to foster innovation in the water sector. When you combine the domain expertise, brand and resources of leading utilities, with the talent, thinking and speed of emerging startups and scaleups, you create the perfect conditions to get further, faster. As a mission driven organization, we’re enthusiastic about lending our expertise to drive efficiencies and improvements around how we manage one of humanity’s most precious commodities”, said Steve Glaveski, CEO of Collective Campus.

The program will consist of an online application process and virtual pitch event. Successful startups and scale-ups will be invited to explore implementing their solutions at Melbourne Water and City West Water. Doing so successfully would open the door to commercial opportunities at almost 30 other water companies across Australia, in addition to the rest of the world.

Startups and scale-ups are encouraged to apply to the program at by 19 March 2021.

December 14, 2020
Smart Water Magazine