Spring – Water Sector Innovation Centre of Excellence Launches


After starting work in July and launching its website in September, Spring – the UK water sector’s first innovation centre of excellence – has today launched its services for users across the sector.

Spring’s core functions sit under two incubators – one centred on ideation and collaboration and the other on innovation adoption.

The first focuses on bolstering and streamlining how ideas are formed and bringing a more diverse range of stakeholders together. This incubator includes access to communities of knowledge, a portal to share opportunities and challenges for innovators to meet and ways to forge new partnerships.

The second emphasises how “the best can help the rest” – sharing best practice, kick-starting new partnerships and getting innovations into the hands of those who can use them. Under this incubator, users can access new funding opportunities, find the most appropriate testbeds for their innovations, easily share knowledge to create project legacy and access innovation mentoring services.

Fundamental across both is Spring’s emphasis on addressing the skills gap the sector faces, while creating innovation champions and supporting the sector’s open data ambitions.

Spring’s functions and focus were developed and refined through close collaboration with water companies, academia and the sector’s supply chain and regulators. This intrinsic link is being maintained through our Board and supplementary Strategic Advisory Board.

The former includes UKWIR, Water UK and British Water, along with representatives from cross-sector organisations – providing formal governance and strong strategic links to the water sector and beyond. Our aligned Strategic Advisory Board broadens our influences and includes representatives from our founding bid partners – Capgemini, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald, RSK and Schneider Electric.

Both of these boards will help us move from our “MVP” in December to future versions with improved and added functionality – all based on users’ needs. As our December launch is a first – and not final – iteration – it’s essential our stakeholders keep engaging with us to shape how we evolve through 2022.

Shaunna Berendsen, Client Programme Director at Spring, said:

“It’s been an incredible effort to take Spring from an unnamed concept in July to something our users can engage with to start delivering benefits for companies, customers and the environment.

We wouldn’t have got this far without the support of UKWIR, colleagues across water companies and invaluable input from Ofwat, CCW, Water UK, representatives from the supply chain and the support from our founding bid partners. We’re grateful to everyone who’s shared their time and expertise with us – we genuinely wouldn’t have achieved this without all of you. As we evolve from our MVP, it’s crucial you stay with us and help shape our future”.

Steve Kaye, UKWIR CEO, said:

“The Spring team have created something fantastic and everyone involved should be incredibly proud. Even before launching, Spring has started to deliver benefits. It’s brought a huge range of stakeholders together and shone a light on the innovation challenges the sector has. Rather than just bringing attention to them, Spring aims to address them – making it easier for companies to share challenges and for innovators to solve them”.


Lila Thompson, CEO at British Water said:

“I’ve had the privilege of working with the Spring team throughout its development. The industry has been in desperate need for a centralised place to pool statements of needs and generate collective ideas and solutions.  I’m excited to see what Spring offers and believe it can transform how our members strengthen existing – and forge new – partnerships. I share Shaunna’s encouragement for everyone involved in the sector to keep engaging with Spring and help shape the future of innovation across the sector”.

Sam Larsen Director of Programmes and Planning at Water UK said:

“Water is an important vehicle for delivering some of Government’s most pressing objectives – net zero, levelling up, and making Britain a hub for innovation and global investment. Spring will accelerate how the water industry and the supply chain will step up to meet these challenges, in new ways, and at a faster pace than ever before”.

Spring – the water sector’s innovation centre of excellence – is live at spring-innovation.co.uk.

More information: Shaunna Berensden – sberendsen@ukwir.org.uk, Charlie Palmer – charlie@create51.com

Notes to editors 

Carly Perry and Shaunna Berendsen were appointed to Spring (formerly the Centre of Excellence) in July 2021.

The idea for Spring was first put forward in the water sector’s innovation strategy – Water Innovation 2050, published in 2020. Since then, it successfully bid for £250,000 from Ofwat’s first Innovation in Water Competition in May which was matched by water companies through UKWIR.

UKWIR leads high-quality, collaborative research for the water industry with the aim of improving services for customers, protecting, and enhancing the environment and innovating to meet future challenges. It is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1993 and is owned and funded by the 19 water companies in the UK and Ireland.

It invests around £3 million in independent research each year – ranging from eliminating water poverty to planning for climate change to reducing leakage – all designed to help tackle the short, medium, and long-term challenges faced by the water sector.